January 10, 2018
How Expert Witnesses Can Help Your Traffic Accident Lawsuit
To hold someone accountable for your traffic accident, you need to present evidence. Quality evidence will include eyewitness testimony, including your own testimony, about what happened. Even though you don’t have to prove the other driver is at fault “beyond a reasonable doubt,” you do have to show that it is more likely than not that they are responsible. This is called “proof by a preponderance of evidence,” and sometimes you need expert witnesses to meet your burden.
What Are Expert Witnesses?
Most witnesses are only able to testify as to what they have personally experienced, such as what they saw or heard. For example, the passenger in your car can testify that he saw a car come tearing through the intersection and plow into your vehicle. However, if the witness goes further and offers an opinion about what happened, the judge should exclude the testimony.
Expert witnesses are different. An expert doesn’t need to personally see the car accident but can instead offer an opinion about who is responsible. Expert witnesses typically have information that the jury needs to render a verdict, and can explain complicated concepts that help the jury do its job of finding the truth. Depending on your circumstances, you might need any of the following expert witnesses to win your traffic accident lawsuit.
Accident Reconstructionists Bring the Accident Alive
Sometimes it’s pretty obvious what caused a crash. For example, all witnesses might agree that Car A hit Car B, and even the driver of Car B doesn’t dispute the fact. However, other accidents are not clear cut, and both drivers will deny any responsibility for causing the crash. In this situation, you might need to hire an accident reconstructionist.
Using their training in physics and math, accident reconstructionists will analyze the evidence to find out what actually happened. For example, a good reconstructionist will assess the following:
- The final resting place of all vehicles involved in the crash
- The damage to the vehicles
- Other accident scene evidence, such as tire marks
- Witness statements
- Police reports
After analyzing the evidence, a reconstructionist will usually create a 3-D presentation to show the jury, typically using computer graphics or 3-D models. This recreation helps to bring the accident to life for the jury so that they can “see” what happened. Based on their analysis, an accident reconstructionist can offer expert testimony about:
- The speed each vehicle was traveling
- The angle of impact
- The severity of impact
- Whether the accident was avoidable
- What actions each driver took right before impact
Medical Experts Explain Injuries
To get compensation, you’ll need to show that you are injured and that the other driver’s negligence caused the injury. Also, the amount of compensation you receive will depend on the severity of your injuries. Because of this, you’ll probably need to have a doctor testify as an expert witness. This person doesn’t necessarily need to be the doctor who treated you at the hospital. Instead, you can hire someone else who will review all of the medical records and test results and base their testimony on that information.
You can also expect the defendant in the lawsuit to have a doctor testify on their behalf as well. This doctor might try to claim that your injuries are not as serious as you claim, or that you have a good chance at recovery. If you don’t have a witness in your own corner, you’ll be at a disadvantage come trial.
Engineers Show How Products are Defective
If you’re claiming to have been injured by a defective product (such as an air bag, car seat, or seat belt), then you will probably need an expert witness to testify. Jurors don’t know how these products should be designed or manufactured, so the expert witness will supply this necessary information.
For example, you might claim that a seat belt was designed improperly. An expert will rely on her experience and training to show what was wrong with the design and explain how the seatbelt should have been designed instead.
Sometimes a product design is sound but the product itself was manufactured in a defective way. An expert witness can help here, too, pointing out to the jury what was wrong with the specific product that was sold to you.
Vocational Experts Prove Lost Earning Capacity
Many accidents will cause you to miss work, but bad accidents could keep you out of work permanently. You might become disabled and not be able to return to your old occupation, or you might not be able to work at all in the future. You can receive compensation for your lost future wages, which is called your “lost earning capacity.”
Proving how much you’ll lose in wages is complicated, and vocational experts step in to help. They will analyze your current medical condition and see what jobs you can do in the future—and which ones you can’t do. They will also calculate how much you could have earned had you not been injured.
Finding Qualified Witnesses
If you’re going to use an expert witness, then you should find the best—someone who can speak to the jury in a way that is easy to understand. Also, every expert must be qualified as an expert with the judge, so you need someone with impeccable experience and education. Although you can certainly look for experts on your own, a traffic accident attorney is a big help.
At The Levin Firm, we regularly work with expert witnesses to help our clients get the compensation they need. We’re skilled at finding the right expert for your case and making sure they are available to testify on your behalf in court, if necessary.
Contact a Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyer Today
It takes time and effort to build a strong lawsuit, and you shouldn’t just hire the first name you see in the phone book. At The Levin Firm, we’ll do everything we can to convince the jury that you deserve every penny you are asking for. Call us today for your free consultation at 215-825-5183 or fill out our online contact form.