Those unfamiliar with or new to the process of litigation may not realize the importance of expert witnesses in helping to construct an effective claim. Depending on the circumstances of the case, the testimony of an expert witness can substantially affect the outcome of the lawsuit itself.
What Makes an Expert Witness Different Than a Fact Witness?
An expert witness is a witness with specialized knowledge, training, or proficiency who is brought in to testify in the form of an opinion as to matters related to their specialty — for example, an expert witness (qualified orthopedic surgeon) might be retained to provide their opinion on the extent of damage caused by a botched orthopedic surgery, and to discuss the standard of care that would normally apply to a surgeon in the circumstances.
Critically, expert witnesses provide opinion testimony. They do not offer direct, observational testimony as to the facts of the case.
By contrast, a factual witness is an individual who is brought in to testify as to the particular facts of the case, based on their personal knowledge and observation thereof. For example, a factual witness who observed a car accident occurring at an intersection (in other words, an eyewitness) would testify as to the sequence of events and how it played out in front of them, to the best of their knowledge. They would not be entitled to provide their opinion on case-related matters.
How Expert Testimony Helps
Expert testimony can be used in a variety of ways. Consider the following non-exhaustive examples:
- Accident reconstruction experts may testify as to how the accident might have occurred given their assessment of the available evidence;
- Medical experts may testify as to the damages, the injuries, and other medically-related issues;
- Industry experts may testify as to the plaintiff’s potential earning capacity given their limited abilities following the accident;
- Product experts and engineering experts may testify as to product defects in a product liability case;
- And more
Undermining and Supporting the Credibility of an Expert
Both plaintiff and defendant will make use of expert witnesses. As such, it’s important — strategically speaking — for each party to undermine the credibility of the experts retained by the other side, and to strengthen the credibility of the experts they themselves retain. You may, for example, challenging the admissibility of an expert witness’s testimony, or alternatively, you could challenge the reliability of such testimony.
If you have been injured due to the fault of another (in a car, truck, or motorcycle accident), you may be entitled to receive compensation pursuant to Arizona law. Successful litigation of your claim requires top-notch execution of a number of different aspects. In litigating your claim, it’s therefore important to keep in mind the value of expert witnesses in providing testimony that supports your various assertions (and undermines those of the defendant).
Hirsch & Lyon is a personal injury firm based out of Phoenix, and our attorneys have over 65 years of combined experience representing clients throughout the state of Arizona. Our firm offers a number of unique advantages to clients — we are focused on personal injury cases, and we also offer discounted contingency fees, ensuring that our clients keep a larger percentage cut of their damages after litigation has come to an end.
Call (602) 535-1900 to connect with a Phoenix accident lawyer here at Hirsch & Lyon. Initial consultation is free, and we will take the time to assess your claims and help you determine the ideal path to recovery.