What Role Do Expert Witnesses Play in Personal Injury Cases?

Personal injury cases are often complex legal processes that involve a wide range of issues, such as the severity of injuries and their financial implications. These complicated issues must be explained and proven in a claim for fair compensation. An experienced car accident attorney can help guide claimants through this legal process.

Witnesses play a crucial role in all Florida personal injury cases. Based on whether the at-fault parties’ insurance companies dispute liability, witnesses can be highly resourceful in proving the defendant’s breach of duty with details about what happened. 

The two types of witnesses that can testify in a Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, personal injury case are lay and expert witnesses. For legal guidance, victims of personal injuries caused by other negligent parties should consult a Palm Beach Gardens personal injury lawyer.

An experienced personal injury attorney will help injury victims gather crucial evidence, including expert witness testimonies, to help build a solid case. Read on to learn about expert witnesses’ role in personal injury cases.

What Is an Expert Witness?

Local state law defines an expert witness as a professional who may not have seen the accident but possesses specific knowledge or competence on the subject upon which they have been called to testify about. The attorney who plans to call an expert witness usually has to name the expert before the trial date and qualify them as an expert in court.

Experts are people with extensive knowledge and skill in a particular area. Their expertise can help explain the intricacies in fields where many people lack understanding.

How Expert Witnesses Are Qualified and Their Role in Florida Personal Injury Cases

According to Florida Statute 90.702, the qualifications for expert witnesses are as follows:

  • The expert must possess the proper knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education.
  • The case facts must support the experts’ testimony
  • The expert must reliably apply principles and methods to the facts

The primary role of expert witnesses is to provide scientific, technical, or other forms of specialized knowledge, which will help the court understand the evidence and determine facts. Expert witness testimonies are commonly used to prove the gravity of the plaintiff’s injuries, pain and suffering, future medical bills, and lost wages or impaired earning potential.

Common Types of Expert Witnesses in Florida Personal Injury Cases

The type of expert witness for a personal injury case depends on the type of accident and injury. Personal injury attorneys may call on various kinds of expert witnesses might testify in court proceedings. Some of the most commonly used expert witnesses include:

Emergency First Responders

Law enforcement personnel, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) who were present at the time of the incident and have extensive training in first aid can serve as credible expert witnesses. Depending on their education, training, and experience, their testimony can be used to help reconstruct accidents and verify injuries. 

However, first responders’ expert witness testimony isn’t always reliable because of safeguards put in place to preserve police-civilian confidentiality. First responders can testify about most situations involving personal injury cases, however. A good example is an EMT who has treated an accident victim to be called as an expert witness to testify.

Medical Professionals

Doctors and other medical professionals can testify in court regarding what caused a patient’s injuries and how severe they are. They can also testify on whether or not the plaintiff is likely to need future medical procedures, such as medications or surgeries, because of a direct effect of the accident.

In their professional opinion, healthcare practitioners can testify that the subject accident, and not prior accidents, injuries, or pre-existing medical conditions, is the main source of the injured individual’s current injuries, symptoms, and financial damages. 

This is particularly important, even if the plaintiff had prior injuries or degenerative changes found on imaging tests such as x-rays and MRIs. These professionals could potentially also help prove that the accident in question worsened a pre-existing symptom. A seasoned personal injury lawyer can evaluate your case and determine the need for a medical expert witness in your case. 

Economists 

Courts may award compensation for lost wages in cases where an injured plaintiff missed work as a direct result of injuries sustained in an accident. An economist may help determine the total amount of lost pay and damages, including potential future lost wages, in circumstances where the plaintiff had an unusual work schedule or changing wages.

Lawyers may also call vocational rehabilitation experts to testify about the plaintiff’s loss of earning capacity or the plaintiff’s incapacity to hold the same job in the future.

Accident Reconstructionists

Expert witness testimony is often pivotal in determining crucial details in a personal injury accident case. A professional accident reconstructionist may be able to highlight what happened and who was at fault in cases where liability is contested. 

Because of their extensive education, training, and experience, accident reconstructionists can examine a crash with an objective, scientific eye. They rely on extensive scientific training and knowledge to determine factors that contributed to the accident, including vehicle speed, direction, location, and momentum.

Phone Records Expert Witnesses

Distracted driving is becoming a significant road safety issue nationwide, especially in Florida. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), over  1,000 distracted driving crashes happen each week in Florida. This has led to a rise in the use of cell phone records in personal injury claims as evidence of whether or not the driver was distracted by their phone while driving. 

As the name suggests, these witnesses are experts in analyzing phone records to construct a timeline of phone use that may be compared to the timeframe of the accident. This testimony is often most valuable in situations involving liability.

Experts in Commercial Truck Accidents 

Cases involving large vehicles such as semi-trucks and commercial trucks often necessitate the consideration of certain factors. These cases usually involve specific regulations concerning cars, drivers, and roads. 

Commercial truck expert witnesses include:

  • Department of Transportation (DOT) experts
  • Vehicle maintenance experts
  • ECM (electronic control module) and EDR (event data recorder) specialists

Other Expert Witnesses

The wide variety of accident types and injuries in Florida means that various expert witnesses can testify in Palm Beach Gardens personal injury cases. Below are the other common expert witnesses in Florida personal injury cases:

  • Life care planners
  • Forensic toxicologists 
  • Orthopedic specialists
  • Pain management specialists
  • Sports injury specialists

Consult the Best Palm Beach Gardens Personal Injury Lawyer

Depending on the facts and circumstances, personal injury cases can be challenging. Lay and expert witness testimonies are often needed to prove the value of a plaintiff’s case.

A seasoned Florida personal injury lawyer from Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers can interview potential witnesses and retain the needed experts you need. Our team of determined attorneys has extensive experience helping victims through the legal process of seeking compensation after a negligently caused injury. 

Please call us at (561) 800-8000 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a personal injury attorney in Florida.