Have you ever wondered what happens in complex cases, where the judge, the jury, or even the plaintiff are not capable of explaining the connections between the facts and the events that led to harm or injury? In matters regarding “scientific, technical or specialized knowledge,” ranging from medical malpractice to a power plant disaster, an expert witness is asked to deliver testimony and explain what went wrong and what are the consequences.
Expert witnesses differ from lay witnesses in terms of the knowledge they possess and the type of testimony they deliver. They do not have any personal knowledge about the facts in the case. Expert witnesses only express their professional opinion based on their experience, knowledge, and education or training. Lay witnesses speak about what they have observed or heard; matters that anyone could discuss without the need to possess extraordinary skills or knowledge.
What is the role of an Expert Witness?
The general duty of an expert witness is to deliver a professional and independent opinion in their area of expertise during a court trial. Experts must prepare and deliver their testimony based on sufficient knowledge acquired through education, experience, or training relevant to matters involved in the case. Expert witnesses have many responsibilities including evaluating potential problems or errors that could have led to harm or injury of the plaintiff, and explaining complex issues and ideas without influencing the judge or the jury.
It is important that the expert witness is highly-qualified and knowledgeable. Strong and relevant expert testimony can support the case, while deficient testimony can weaken it. Furthermore, the expert witness needs to know how to deliver the facts and the explanation to non-experts so they can fully understand the issue.
When is expert testimony necessary?
Not all cases require the additional support of an expert’s opinion. Expert testimony is useful in cases where the attorney believes that it will increase the client's chance of winning. If it is obvious that an average juror will not be able to understand the facts of the case, having an expert witness present their professional opinion may be the right decision. For example, expert witnesses are often necessary in medical malpractice cases. Because the jurors are most likely not healthcare providers, they need to be presented with an explanation and opinion from a medical professional, to determine what happened.
Expert witnesses can be used to increase the chances of winning the case. Expert testimony is not necessary in every case, but only in those requiring specific knowledge and expertise. When choosing an expert witness, it is important to remember that he or she must be capable of delivering facts and opinions in simple ways. If the expert witness does not communicate clearly, the testimony might complicate the case even more.
If you’ve been injured by a car, truck, 18 wheeler, or company vehicle, call DeSouza Law today.