An expert witness is defined under the Vermont Rules of Evidence as somebody whose expertise will aid the jury in determining the facts of the case. Usually, a lay witness or an ordinary witness is someone who testifies by reason of their personal knowledge of some aspect of the case. Those are people who saw something, heard something, and were involved somehow in some of the underlying events of the case.
Expert witnesses are witnesses who, based on their education, training, or experience, can apply specialized knowledge to the evidence of the case, even if they were not present when these things happen. Their job is to interpret complicated evidence and teach jurors about areas of expertise that most people do not have, such as medicine, science, physics, and more. Drew Palcsik, an experienced car accident attorney at Champlain Valley Law, can help you understand the use of expert witnesses in Burlington car accident cases. Reach out to learn about how Drew can help your case.
Requirements to Become an Expert Witness
Depending on the subject, there is no specific requirement for an expert witness’ experience. They could just have life experience in an area that gives them expertise. It does not require a degree of any kind. What is important is that they have both skill by way of training, education, or experience and that they are applying a reliable scientific method to the work. They cannot just be guessing or presenting a novel explanation. There must be reputable methods to the application of their knowledge to the facts of the case.
Is the Witness Allowed to Have An Existing Relationship With The Plaintiff?
The expert witness can have an existing relationship with the plaintiff, and in some cases, it is helpful. For instance, a treating physician is considered an expert witness in most instances and the nature of their existing relationship adds to their credibility. However, in some cases, a social relationship, for instance, might undermine the credibility but that does not present a barrier to the individual testifying as an expert, so long as they meet the other qualifications.
What Types of Expert Witnesses Might Be Used in a Car Accident Case?
In almost every case, there are medical experts who tell us the nature and extent of the injuries and may explain the causal connection between the car crash and the injuries. An attorney might use economists to explain lost income or biomechanical experts to explain the forces involved in car crashes, such as the physics.
Costs of Expert Witnesses in a Case
Expert witnesses get paid regardless of the outcome of the case. They get paid, typically, up front. In most cases, if they have a competent injury lawyer, the injury lawyer will pay that expert out of their own pocket. The car accident attorney will recover the cost from them as the injured person if the case settles or if there is a jury verdict. But in most cases, if the lawyer asks a person to pay the court costs or the expert witness costs, they should probably keep looking because that is not the kind of lawyer they should work with.
Let a Car Accident Attorney Advocate on Your Behalf
When deciding to use expert witnesses, the lawyer must determine if their testimony is needed to prove the case. That is a decision that is made early on. Unless they have a particular person in mind, then soon after they get the case, lawyers will begin to evaluate particular experts or look for experts in that field and have conversations with them about the case, then decide whether they are the appropriate person to present that expert testimony.
The legal team at Champlain Valley Law will work with that expert over the course of the case to develop and understand their opinions about what happened. They must assist them in preparing expert disclosures so that the other parties in the case know and understand what it is that their expert will be testifying about. Then, the lawyer must prepare and present the experts as a trial witness in order to get that evidence across to their jury. Call Drew today to learn more about the use of expert witnesses in Burlington car accident cases.