Expert Witnesses in Personal Injury Cases
Many facts in personal injury cases are proven through the use of expert witnesses. Some cases even require these witnesses.
Expert Witnesses in Florida
Under Florida law, an expert witness is a:
“person duly and regularly engaged in the practice of a profession who holds a professional degree from a university or college and has had special professional training and experience, or one possessed of special knowledge or skill about the subject upon which called to testify.”
For an expert witness to testify at trial, the following conditions must be met:
- The expert witness has to be “qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education.”
- Sufficient facts or data support the testimony.
- Reliable principles and methods underlie the testimony.
- The expert witness reliably applied these principles and methods to the facts.
The testimony of expert witnesses is often used to establish various things, such as the extent of physical injuries, pain and suffering, future medical expenses, lost or diminished earning capacity. Expert witnesses commonly provide testimony about the damages discussed below.
Types of Expert Witnesses
There’s an expert available for just about any subject matter at issue in a lawsuit.
Many personal injuries occur due to vehicle accidents. Collision analysis of braking, acceleration, and speed is often critical in determining fault. The collision reconstructionist can testify about these issues.
Electronic Control Modules
Semi-trucks today have electronic control modules (ECMs). These systems monitor and collect data related to sudden braking, speed, and RPMs. Engine manufacturers originally installed ECMs to protect themselves against warranty claims. However, the data from ECMs can be useful in a personal injury lawsuit. The data can help prove that a driver drove longer than legally allowed or show the truck had poor engine maintenance.
A vocational expert prepares and testifies about an employability assessment. This looks at the plaintiff’s injuries and how they impact the victim’s ability to make a living. The expert testifies about the results of the assessment to demonstrate to the jury how the plaintiff’s earning capacity has been diminished.
Life Care Plans
A life care planner evaluates the plaintiff’s injuries and testifies about the person’s long-term medical needs associated with their injuries. This expert can testify about the type and severity of the injuries, durable medical equipment needs, home care requirements, transportation needs, and how age can affect the ability and needs of the plaintiff.
The neurologist specializes in brain, nerve, and spinal cord injuries, which often happen in vehicle accidents. This expert is very helpful in determining long-term medical care. They can testify about a plaintiff’s extent of injury and level of disability. Many injuries involving the brain and neck areas can require extensive rehabilitation and permanent assistive care.
In some claims, a victim may have been exposed to a substance that can increase their chances of developing cancer. The oncologist specializes in this field of medicine. They can testify about long-term care techniques like surgery or chemotherapy.
This medical specialty deals with serious issues like joint surgery, hip replacement, and other musculoskeletal injuries. Their testimony can be critical to determining the extent of the plaintiff’s future medical care costs.
Many victims in accidents suffer chronic pain for the remainder of their lives. Pain management physicians evaluate, diagnose, and treat pain. They can testify about how much pain a person feels, its impacts on their life, and the long-term costs of pain medication treatment.
A serious accident can often lead to the loss of a body part like an arm or leg. Or the plaintiff may lose functional ability in a portion of their body. The rehabilitation specialist can educate the jury about how long it will take to restore functionality, any needed prosthetics, and other future rehabilitation costs.
Due to their size and mass, collisions involving semi-trucks are usually more complicated than two-car accidents on a suburban street. Semi-trucks have detailed maintenance requirements, and an expert in this field can testify whether the truck had been adequately maintained and the consequences if it had not.
A defendant often causes a vehicle accident because they are texting or talking on the phone. However, proving this can be difficult. A smartphone records specialist can help establish this proof by accessing phone records and testifying how they did it and what the phone records showed.
Whether legal or illegal, the use of drugs contributes to an unnecessarily high incidence of vehicle accidents and other injuries. Drug reactions, toxicology, poisoning, and overdoses all can factor into a drug-related accident. The toxicologist can testify about these and other longer-term impacts of drug use, such as mesothelioma and lymphoma.
Vehicles today are safer than they’ve ever been due to all the features built into them, like safety belts and airbags. After an accident, the transportation safety specialist can testify whether these safety measures worked as intended.