All personal injury cases are unique, as the facts differ in every case. Sometimes, upon reviewing a case, a personal injury attorney determines that they may need an expert witness to help prove the case if it goes to trial.
An expert witness is someone who is qualified by their knowledge, their skillset, their experience, and their training, or education to be an expert in a particular field or area. Unlike lay witnesses who can only testify to their opinions in limited circumstances, an expert can generally testify in the form of an opinion if they meet four (4) requirements.
The 4 Requirements for Expert Witness Opinion Testimony
Pursuant to LA Code Ev Art 702, an expert witness in Louisiana can offer an opinion if:
1. The expert's specialized knowledge will be useful for understanding the evidence or to determine facts of a case.
2. The testimony is based on abundant facts or data.
3. The testimony occurs after reliable principles, processes, and methods were used.
4. The expert has reliably applied the principles and methods to the facts of the case.
Thus, the initial inquiry for determining whether an expert will be allowed to offer their opinion is whether their opinion will be helpful to the trier of fact. The trier of fact may be the judge or the jury, depending on whether there is a bench trial or a jury trial.
For example, suppose a plaintiff was injured in a car accident wherein they allege that the defendant was speeding, which caused the accident, and the defendant denies doing so. In that case, the plaintiff may hire an accident reconstructionist as an expert witness to give his opinion on the defendant's speed at the point of collision based on the vehicle damage. The information provided by the expert witness may be helpful to a jury that must decide if the defendant breached his duty to the plaintiff by speeding. Further, the expert's opinion testimony is likely allowable if the expert has an opinion based on sufficient facts or data (e.g., reviewing the damage to the vehicles and performing testing), used reliable principles and methods in forming their opinion, and reliably applied the methods to the car accident at hand.
Expert witnesses and the testimony they provide can be invaluable to winning a personal injury case. Thus, identifying the need for an expert witness may be a critical component of a case. Moreover, locating and retaining the right expert witness for the job is not always the easiest task and can be quite daunting. Therefore, contacting an experienced Louisiana personal injury attorney to handle your injury case is one of the most vital decisions an injured person makes.
Call A Louisiana Personal Injury Attorney
The Law Offices of Philip B. Adams have the experience necessary to properly review a personal injury case and determine if an expert witness will be helpful. We are accident attorneys that work relentlessly for our clients.
If you, a friend, or a family member has a personal injury case in Louisiana, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Philip B. Adams today! We are Shreveport, LA, accident attorneys that know what to do and how to do it. Please use our convenient, online submission form to request a free consultation.