Expert Witnesses & Their Role in Missouri Personal Injury Cases
An expert witness is "a person who is a specialist in a subject, often technical, who may present his/her expert opinion without having been a witness to any occurrence relating to the lawsuit or criminal case." As Cape Girardeau personal injury lawyers, we know that it's common to utilize expert witnesses in cases involving car accidents and other kinds of injuries. Indeed, expert witnesses are used more often in tort cases - usually personal injury or medical malpractice - than in any other kind of trial, according to a Federal Judicial Center publication.
Experts use their experience and education to support or disprove evidence, and their testimony can help establish both fault and damages. The best expert witnesses are experienced professionals in their fields, which may range from medical doctors to crash reconstruction specialists to economists to vocational rehabilitation professionals and even life care planners. Below, you'll find a discussion of these different kinds of experts and the relevant testimony they can provide.
• Medical and mental health specialists are the most commonly used category of expert, especially in personal injury cases. For example, a treating physician can testify that a car accident caused your injuries, the extent of your injuries, and your prognosis for the future. An expert medical or mental health specialist can also testify about possible complications and loss of physical capabilities.
• Accident reconstruction experts can help establish fault in a car accident case. After careful consideration of the accident scene, evidence, and witness statements, this professional determines what happened, how it happened, and what caused the accident. Skid marks, gravel yaw marks, pictures and relevant mathematical formulas are used to analyze the accident and assess its cause.
• Economists are sometimes used to demonstrate the extent of damages you have suffered in a car accident case. They analyze and compile all the relevant data, such as the cost of your life care plan; all related medical care, now and into the future; and lost wages and benefits, past and future.
• Vocational rehabilitation professionals can help to prove that you are unable to work on a consistent basis; or to show that you may be able to work if you are provided with training. There are several vocational rehabilitation offices in the area.
• Life care planners are typically doctors or nurses who research your case and put together a "life care plan." This plan will outline all the treatment and support that you will need for the rest of your life. Such testimony helps prove the extent of damages when a client suffers severe injuries accompanied by permanent impairment. Or, in a case where the physical injury may not be obvious or seem significant, a life care planner can make a vital difference.