As a plaintiff in an Alabama personal injury case, the burden of proof is on you to prove that the defendant owed you a duty of care, breached the duty of care owed to you, that the breach of duty was the proximate cause of your accident, and that you suffered damages as a result. You must prove this by a preponderance of the evidence, which essentially means proving that it is “more likely than not” that the above elements are true. (Note: this is a much lower burden of proof than “beyond a reasonable doubt,” the burden of proof used in criminal cases.)
In order to prove the above four elements, you will need to submit a variety of evidence types. One type of evidence that should not be overlooked is the testimony of any relevant experts.
Expert Testimony Is a Type of Evidence
When you are filing a personal injury case, you will need to submit various types of evidence to help prove your claim, including medical reports, a police report, eyewitness testimony, photographs of your accident and injuries, and more. Expert testimony is a type of evidence that can be used to prove fault, causation, or damages, and overall add clout to your claim.
What Qualifies a Witness as an Expert?
There are two different witness types: lay witnesses and expert witnesses. A lay witness is someone who may have seen the event and can talk about your accident or injuries but does not have specialized knowledge. For example, if your spouse witnessed your injury and tells a jury that your broken leg has made it hard for you to go to work or get around the house, they are serving as a lay witness.
Expert witnesses, on the other hand, are persons who have superior knowledge of, training in, education pertaining to, or relevant experience in a specialized area. Things that may qualify one person as an expert as opposed to another include credentials, education, publication, reputation, and years of experience.
Types of Expert Witnesses in Personal Injury Cases
In a personal injury case, there are many different types of experts who may be called upon to offer testimony and insight about the case. Some of the most common types of experts include:
- Forensic experts;
- Accident reconstruction experts;
- Medical experts (anesthesiologists, neurologists, pediatricians, surgeons, gynecologists, psychiatrists, etc.);
- Forensic accountants;
- Economic/financial experts;
- Vehicle or product design experts.
The type of expert that is necessary for your case will depend both on how your accident happened/what type of accident in which you were involved and your injuries.
Why Do Expert Witnesses Matter?
Even more than lay witnesses, including, in some cases, eyewitnesses, the opinion of an expert can make or break your case, sway a jury’s opinion, or/and affect the settlement amount that you’re offered. This is because:
- Experts provide objective testimony;
- Experts are authorities in their field; and
- Experts have more on the line – experts have a higher incentive to provide honest, accurate analysis and information; they can face legal consequences, or a tarnished reputation should their testimony prove to be flawed.
What’s more, in some personal injury cases, such as a medical malpractice case, the opinion of an expert is required before a case can proceed. (See the Alabama Medical Liability Act for more details.)
How to Find Expert Witnesses for Your Personal Injury Case
If you’ve been injured, you may be wondering whether or not you need experts for your claim, and if so, how to go about finding (and affording) such experts. Expert witnesses are always valuable in a personal injury claim.
Finding expert witnesses and affording their fees (which can be astronomical) on your own can prove challenging. When you work with a skilled and experienced lawyer, however, your lawyer will not only have developed strong relationships with experts over the years but will also have the resources necessary to front these costs.
The Alsobrook Law Group Can Help
If you have been injured due to the actions of another, you maintain the right to pursue a personal injury claim for damages. However, in order for that case to be successful, you will need to present compelling evidence, including the testimony of an expert or experts. At the office of the Alsobrook Law Group, our lawyers can build your claim, gather evidence on your behalf, and hire experts to add authority to your claim. Reach us today at 334-737-3718 to request your free consultation, or stop by our office or send us a message directly.