Auto Accidents: Expert Witness and Expert Testimony
Every auto accident is unique, and unfortunately the evidence supporting or negating a specific party’s negligence is not always immediately apparent. The vast majority of personal injury actions are presented to a jury, as opposed to a bench trial, in which the judge acts as both the trier of law and fact. Consequently, the ultimate determination of a specific matter resides in the hands of laypersons, who are often unfamiliar with complex legal and medical terms. This notion is further complicated when considering damages which cannot be easily assigned a monetary value, yet somehow must be quantified. The Chicago accident and injury attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. have access to a variety of expert legal and medical support services for both consultation and testimony purposes.
In auto accidents involving a suspected defect in a vehicle component, your injury attorney may employ an engineering, manufacturing, and/or products liability expert. Common vehicle defects include defective vehicle design and defective vehicle manufacture. However, products liability cases can also include defects in warning or instructions, such as those related to airbag use or deployment.
The most common form of expert support services include those related to injury and damages. Many of these experts are employed solely for the purpose of consultation, or support through the claims, discovery, and pre-trial processes. Some experts are employed solely for the purpose of testifying at trial. Yet, others may perform both forms of expert services. For example, your injury attorney may employ a medical consultant to provide a summary of the injuries sustained, and this expert may also assist the attorney in preparing for a client’s deposition. Your accident lawyer may then employ a separate medical expert for testimonial purposes at trial.
Medical consulting experts and witnesses are commonly used in overcoming issues of causation. This is especially true in cases where the injured may have had a pre-existing injury, a concurrent injury, or a subsequent injury. Even in the absence of such complicating factors, expert testimony can be very useful in laying a foundation for the jury as to the presence, existence, significance, and type, of injury.
With liability and the presence of injury having first been established, assisting the jury in calculating damage amounts is often necessary. This is particularly true for damages which are difficult to quantify, such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, and other psychological damages. Through the use of expert testimony, damages can be assigned a monetary value, which may assist the jury during deliberations. Such expertise may provide testimony as to the permanency of an injury, disability ratings, and other factors concerning incapacitation. In fact, these type of damages are only recoverable upon a showing of sufficient evidence.
Likewise, experts can offer supporting evidence to guide the jury in their determination of damages such as future lost wages, also known as diminished earning capacity. The complex nature of future damage claims, which require the presentation of supporting evidence tending to prove that the earning capacity of the injured has been either impaired or diminished, almost always requires expert testimony in order to recover for such claims. Experts employed to testify regarding future damages may present quantitative or qualitative data regarding similarly situated individuals to demonstrate the loss of future work potential, capacity, and opportunity, as well as other testimony concerning limitations that the injured should expect to endure in the future.
In wrongful death actions resulting from a motor vehicle accident, your attorney may employ experts to support your damage claim for pecuniary damages. Expert testimony can provide supporting evidence as to the money, goods, and services that the decedent would have been expected to contribute over the course of that person’s lifetime, as well as evidence regarding life expectancy calculations. Common claims include loss of consortium for actions involving the death of a spouse, and loss of society for actions involving the death of a child. In some cases, a sibling can recover for loss of society.
Expert testimony may also be used to assist the jury in understanding the overall effect of auto accident, or for the purpose of rebutting expert testimony presenting by an opposing party. In addition, experts are often used for verification as to credibility and reliability of literary or scholarly sources presented as evidence in court.
The experienced Chicago injury and accident attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. have the resources and knowledge necessary to determine when expert support services are necessary, and which services will be most suitable for your particular matter. Because every claim for personal injury or wrongful death requires the presentation of competent, reliable, and credible evidence to support such claim, it is important to protect your legal interests by securing representation from a lawyer specialized in auto accidents. For a FREE personal injury consultation with one of our experienced and dedicated personal injury or wrongful death attorneys, contact Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. today at 773-516-4100, or you may submit a request online at our website.