Expert Witness Lawyer | Medical Malpractice Lawyer Expert Witnesses
In every personal injury trial, or every personal injury lawsuit that is filed, a personal injury attorney will retain at least one expert to testify. At a bare minimum, your personal injury attorney will need to have the testimony of a medical doctor, preferably the treating physician. The doctor must give testimony that your injuries were, more likely than not, caused by your particular accident. Without this type of testimony, your personal injury claim could be defeated at the close of the plaintiff’s case-in-chief.
Types of Expert Witnesses in a Personal Injury Case:
A brief summary of the typical expert witnesses one might see in a personal injury case is provided to aid in your understanding of why expert witnesses are so important to personal injury lawsuits.
Expert Physicians’ or Doctors’ Testimony
In every injury case, there are medical records, which serve as evidence. These medical records must be retrieved by your Personal Injury Attorney in a manner that makes them admissible at the time of trial. Having admissible medical records and medical bills is not enough to get your case submitted to the jury. There must be relevant and competent medical testimony to show the treatment that is reflected in the medical records was necessary to treat your injuries. In a Personal Injury case, you must prove that, more likely than not, your injury was medically caused by the event. Finally, a doctor usually testifies that your medical bills are:
- customary in ; and
- necessary to properly treat the injured plaintiff for the injuries that were sustained.
Economic Damage Experts
In addition to having a doctor testify, your Injury Lawyer will undoubtedly have an economist testify. juries are sometimes asked to consider "after-tax dollars" in computing your economic loss. A the Personal Injury Lawyer will often call a certified public accountant (CPA) to testify. That economics expert will rely upon your prior W-2 statements and your prior income tax returns. When an economist testifies, he/she must give the jury testimony to demonstrate past loss of wages, or past loss of earning capacity, as well as future loss of wages and/or future loss of earning capacity. In determining your future loss of earning capacity, they usually select 65 years of age to compute your work-life expectancy. A Economics Expert Witness may also testify concerning taxable income or the future value of money awarded now.
Vocational Rehabilitation Expert Witnesses
Quite often, your Injury and Accident Attorney will retain a certified vocational rehabilitationist to testify when your case goes to trial. A Vocational Rehabilitationist looks at all the medical records, reads the doctor’s deposition, and does testing upon the injury victim. The types of testing that are frequently performed include:
- IQ tests;
- psychological surveys;
- skills assessment tests;
- the WAIS-R IQ tests;
- aptitude testing; and
- learning disability testing.
Further, a comprehensive vocational evaluation is performed to determine your transferable skills, and then the testing, as well as the physician’s analysis, are all summarized and employability analysis is performed. The defense will undoubtedly try to show that you can go back to work and keep gainful employment. They do this to reduce the amount of your future economic wage loss or future loss of earning capacity. If you are the plaintiff in a serious injury case, it is essential that you retain your own vocational rehabilitation expert.
Expert Witness Standards
In almost every personal injury lawsuit, either the defense or the plaintiff’s counsel, and sometimes both, will challenge expert opinions, either in whole or in part. The standards for what types of expert testimony are allowed are found below.
Federal Expert Witness Standards
In 1993, the United States Supreme Court decided Daubert v. Merrell-Dow Pharmaceuticals, 509 U.S. 579 (1993), which dealt with the standard in the Federal Rules of Evidence for admitting the testimony of scientific experts. In Daubert, and also discussing FRE 702, the Supreme Court was establishing the trial judge as a “gatekeeper” to ensure that any and all scientific testimony is not only relevant, but reliable. After Daubert, federal trial judges must decide for themselves whether an expert’s methodology is reliable.
Expert Witness Standard
Not every state applies the Daubert standard in state law cases, although Federal courts in every state do apply this standard. Your local personal injury attorney will help you understand how expert witnesses will help you prove your case in court.