WHAT IS AN EXPERT WITNESS?
Expert witnesses in personal injury cases bring specialized knowledge to the table. They shed light on the causes and effects of injuries. Negligence and liability flow from the causes of accidents. Damages are the effects of injuries. Hence, when a case rests on technical or scientific factors, personal injury attorneys on one or both sides may call in expert witnesses.
WHO ARE THEY?
They’re professionals with high standing in their fields. In addition, they usually hold solid credentials. Their fields include medicine, engineering, economics, mental health, aquatics, and accident reconstruction.
WHO PAYS EXPERT WITNESSES?
Expert witnesses get fees for their services from the side that hires them. The median retainer is $2,000 and hourly rates range from $240 to over $500. Consequently, the expense can be large.
CONSULTING VS. TESTIFYING
A consulting expert’s role is to review the evidence and explain complexities. Attorneys use this help to prepare their cases. However, they don’t testify in court. Moreover, the guidance a consulting witness provides doesn’t have to be shared with the other side.
In contrast, testifying experts do appear in court. They testify in support of their clients. This clearly requires speaking skills as well as professional expertise. It’s crucial to realize that the guidance from testifying experts is discoverable. That is, the other side gets to see it before trial.
Both sides in a case can, of course, hire expert witnesses. Naturally, if one side does the other side will, too.
ADMISSIBILITY OF EXPERT WITNESS EVIDENCE
Judges have to rule on allowing the testimony of an expert witness as evidence. A 2018 decision by the Florida Supreme Court has made it easier for it to be admitted. In fact, the Florida standard is now looser than the federal standard.
If admitted, it’s up to the judge or to the jury to decide whether an expert’s testimony is convincing. That is, they weigh it against the other evidence. That includes the other side’s expert testimony. In other words, “admitted” doesn’t mean “accepted”.
Attorneys of the Boca Raton law firm Silver & Silver, P.A. are experts in personal injury law. Some cases don’t call for expert witnesses. Our experienced team knows which don’t and which do. If you or a loved one has been hurt in any kind of accident in South Florida, a call to Silver & Silver should be the next thing you do.