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Will Your Case Require the Testimony of an Expert Witness?


Will your injury lawsuit require the testimony of an expert? That’s a question your personal injury attorney can answer, but you may be wondering why experts are needed, in any case. Why can’t everybody just testify what happened, and let the jury make its decision?

The Rules of Evidence

The reason why experts are needed is because of a fundamental rule of the rules of evidence: You can only testify as to something that you have personal knowledge about. And you have to show the court that you have personal knowledge.

So, let’s say that you were hit from behind by another car. You could certainly testify that the car hit you, what happened to you, where you were—all details of the accident—because you were there and experienced it.

But could you testify about the epidural injections you received as a result of the accident? You could certainly testify that you had them. But you don’t have any knowledge about how the procedure was done, what the doctors found, or what your future prognosis is—those are things only an expert (specifically, a doctor) can testify to.

The Use of Experts in Cases

Expert testimony is most often used to give testimony that contains some level of technical or specialized expertise. A doctor giving medical advice is the most common example, but there are many other examples as well.

Let’s imagine that you were attacked in the parking lot of a store, and you are suing for negligent security. What kind of security or safety measures should the store have had, that it did not have?

That would take someone who is an expert in security of large properties, perhaps someone with a law enforcement or security background.

Imagine that your airbag didn’t function properly. Neither you, nor your attorney, are experts in the internal workings of the typical airbag. That takes a specialist with the technical expertise to say that.

Some accidents may take multiple experts. Imagine someone injured in a nursing home. That victim may need an expert who knows about proper nursing home care, and doctors who can testify as to the victim’s injuries. If the victim passed away, and there are long term financial losses to the family in a wrongful death case, another expert–an economist–may be needed to calculate the long term financial losses to the family.

Multiple Experts

Both sides to a case are entitled to get their own experts, and they usually do. The Defendant can’t have the jury only hearing your expert—that would be too persuasive. So, many cases become a “battle of the experts,” with both sides’ experts giving usually conflicting opinions in a case about their scientific or technical opinions or findings.

Who will win? Who will the jury believe? That often boils down to which expert can explain very technical and complex information, in language that the average juror can understand. A good injury attorney can help both the expert, and the jury, convey and understand highly complex testimony.

Are you prepared for your injury trial? We are. Call the Knoxville personal injury attorneys at Fox Farley Willis & Burnette, PLLC, today.




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