The Role of Expert Witnesses in Building a Strong Personal Injury Case

By Jon Lewis on May 16 in Lewis & Feldman Blog.

The Role of Expert Witnesses in Building a Strong Personal Injury Case

Hurt in an accident in Alabama? You have the right to pursue compensation for your damages through a personal injury claim. Financial support may include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. With that being said, defendants and insurers will often put up a fight. Unfortunately, in most cases, they try to pay out as little as possible in personal injury cases. 

An expert witness can play a very important role in building a strong personal injury case. Indeed, expert testimony could be used to establish liability and/or damages. Within this article, our Birmingham personal injury lawyer provides a comprehensive overview of the role of expert witnesses in personal injury claims in Alabama. 

What is an Expert Witness?

All successful legal claims in Alabama are built on a foundation of reliable evidence—and personal injury cases are certainly no exception to the rule. Witness testimony can be a compelling and persuasive form of evidence. Broadly speaking, there are two types of witnesses:  

  1. Fact Witnesses: A person who actually witnessed a key aspect of the case; and
  2. Expert Witnesses: A person with relevant professional experience. 

An expert witness in a personal injury case is a specialist who provides the court with knowledge beyond that of an average person. Their testimony can be crucial for clarifying complex issues and establishing facts that are pivotal to the case. Expert witnesses must have a relevant professional  background. Their expertise is used to help a judge/jury understand the nuances of the evidence. 

Know the Standard for Expert Witness Admissibility in Alabama

A court will not automatically agree to hear testimony from an expert witness—not in a personal injury claim or any other type of legal disputes. In Alabama, there are specific criteria for the admissibility of expert witnesses. Under AL Code § 12-21-160, an expert witness may be allowed to provide testimony “if scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue.”Under the Alabama Rules of Evidence, expert witness testimony is typically governed by the Daubert standard. The standard requires that the expert’s testimony be: 

  1. Relevant; and
  2. Reliable. 

Specifically, a court in Alabama must determine that expert testimony must be based on sufficient facts or data, be the product of reliable principles and methods, and the individual presenting it must have applied these principles and methods reliably to the facts of the case. In Alabama, it is the role of the judge to as a gatekeeper. They must determine the admissibility of expert testimony by evaluating the methodology used rather than the conclusions drawn. 

Common Situations When Expert Witnesses Can Help to Build a Strong Personal Injury Claim

Expert witnesses are not used in every personal injury claim in Alabama. However, an expert witness may be called upon if they have some technical knowledge that can help the court (judge and jury) understand the implications of certain evidence. Here are three of the most common situations in which expert testimony can be used in a personal injury claim in Alabama: 

  • Determining the Standard of Care: An expert witness may help determine the standard of care that should have been used by the defendant. For example, in medical malpractice cases, an expert witness is essential for establishing the standard of care that a doctor should have abided by in a particular situation. Consider a case where a patient suffers complications due to a surgeon’s alleged negligence during a routine procedure. A medical expert in the same specialty as the defendant would be called upon to testify about the accepted practices in that field. The expert would explain to the jury what a competent surgeon would reasonably have done under comparable conditions. 
  • Establishing Causation: Experts can also testify to causation—meaning what actually happened. As an example, in a motor vehicle collision case, an accident reconstruction expert might be employed to provide insights into how the collision occurred based on the damage to the vehicles, skid marks, and other physical evidence from the scene. The expert could offer a detailed analysis indicating that the defendant’s speed or failure to obey traffic signals directly led to the accident—thereby causing the plaintiff’s injuries. 
  • Proving Existence/Severity of Injuries: In Alabama, expert witnesses may also testify to damages. For example, in a case involving complex injuries such as traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), expert witnesses are indispensable for demonstrating both the existence and the extent of the injuries suffered. Neurologists or neuropsychologists might be called to explain the plaintiff’s brain scans and other medical data to a jury, detailing how the injury occurred and its likely long-term impacts. These experts can discuss the cognitive, physical, and emotional effects of brain injuries. The testimony not only clarifies the severity of the injury but also the necessity of ongoing and future treatment. 

A Top-Tier Personal Injury Lawyer in Alabama Can Connect You With the Right Experts

Personal injury claims are complicated. You need an experienced Birmingham, AL personal injury attorney on your side. Along with other things, our attorney will review your case, organize your evidence, and help you connect with the right expert witness(es) for your specific claim. The right expert witness testimony could potentially make the difference in your case. Victims need the best possible outcome, including compensation for property damage, medical expenses, loss of income, pain and suffering, and other types of damages. 

Contact Our Birmingham, AL Personal Injury Attorney Today

At Lewis & Feldman, LLC, our Alabama personal injury lawyer fights aggressively to protect the rights of victims and families. If you have any questions about the role of an expert witness in a personal injury claim, we are here to help. Call us at 205-896-6410 or contact our personal injury team online for a no-cost, no-strings-attached initial appointment. From our Birmingham law office, we represent injured victims throughout all of Alabama. 

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Personal Injury | Truck Accidents | Auto Accidents | Pedestrian Accidents