Experts in Negligence Cases

An expert witness – also called a professional witness or judicial expert – provides factual information on a specific subject based on their elevated level of knowledge in the area. Unlike lay witnesses or character witnesses, who can only provide information on the facts of the incident, expert witnesses are expected to transfer specialized information on the field of interest to the courtroom.

Role of an expert witness

When the courts require additional understanding regarding facts related to highly specialized or technical subject matter within a negligence claim, they may call an expert witness. Their role in any case is to present their professional opinion on the subject matter being discussed. As such, they do not provide testimony on the events being debated in court. They are present to assist the court in understanding the facts of the case beyond what a layman would be expected to know.

Additionally, expert witnesses may only discuss facts. For example: in a negligence suit involving chemicals, they cannot say that a person was acting dangerously. Instead, they may only state that the chemicals this person was experimenting with were lethal.

Qualifying expert witnesses

Witnesses can have many qualifications that allow them to provide subject matter expertise. This can be a combination of education, experience in the field, training, and their reputation both within and outside the court. Professionals who are biased are unqualified to take the stand, and if a topic arises that is out of their area of expertise, they must be able and willing to acknowledge this.

Negligence suits

The purpose of an expert witness is to help counsel determine either causality or fault in order to build or defend their case. Expert witnesses can also be called to help determine whether damages have occurred, and to what extent. Expert witnesses can be particularly useful in negligence cases, which determine whether a failure has occurred in upholding one’s duty of care to someone or something. The testimony of expert witnesses often helps the court decide what type and amount of damages should be awarded. For example, a medical expert may testify to the level of head trauma in an accident in order to determine the severity of the physical injury suffered by the plaintiff.

In these types of cases, expert witnesses are useful because they are able to provide their professional opinion on whether the standard of care was upheld. A layperson may not understand what the standard of care in a certain situation – such as during a medical procedure – might be.

Expert Witness Services from Litili

At times it can be helpful to hire more than one expert witness in a negligence claim. This can enhance the credibility of the argument being built because the second expert is able to confirm the facts and complement the statements presented by the first expert (although their areas of expertise cannot directly overlap). Be sure to avoid cumulative testimony, however, which wastes the court’s valuable time. It is also important to make sure that expert witnesses are well prepared and that they are providing the same information in both their depositions and on the stand in order to ensure consistency across testimony.