What Role Do Expert Witnesses Play in NY Car Accident Lawsuits

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    If you are considering filing a lawsuit after a car crash, you might have come across the term “expert witness.”  While most witnesses are eyewitnesses – people who saw the accident firsthand – anyone who is called to the stand to testify in a car accident is technically known as a “witness.”  Expert witnesses are a special type of witness that testifies about an area of relevant scientific or medical knowledge rather than the facts of the case itself.  Knowing what role expert witnesses might play in your case is important for car accident victims.

    Expert witnesses will often be used to explain medical and scientific information to the jury.  This can involve an explanation of your injuries, your medical treatment, and any potential medical malpractice that took place during your treatment for your car accident injuries.  Expert witnesses can also be used to explain how auto defects contributed to your accident, to reconstruct accident scenes, or even to help calculate damages.

    For help with your case, call the NY car accident injury attorneys at The Carrion Law Firm today at (718) 841-0083.

    Expert Witnesses vs. Regular Witnesses in Car Accident Cases

    As mentioned, anyone who is called to the stand to testify in a lawsuit is called a “witness.”  These witnesses are sworn in to testify, and the jury takes what they say as evidence of what happened in the case, weighing the facts they present just as they would photos, videos, and records.  While witnesses usually testify about what they saw or experienced, expert witnesses testify about what they know, separate from the facts of the case.

    While you, as the victim, and other “eyewitnesses” can testify about what you saw or heard happen, expert witnesses will not actually testify about the facts of the case.  Instead, experts are brought in for their expertise in a particular field, and they are asked to explain some scientific or technical information to the jury.

    The NY Rules of Evidence only allow our Harlem car accident lawyers to call expert witnesses when the information they’re presenting is specialized information beyond what average people know.  The expert also needs to be “certified” as an expert by the court by virtue of having specialized training or experience that the jury (and everyone else in the courtroom) would not have.

    So, for instance, a doctor, a car accident reconstruction expert, or an automotive engineer might be experts in their field, with training and experience that the typical person does not have.  The parties can call experts like this when needed, and the court can also order an expert witness to be used if the court needs help understanding a difficult technical point at issue in the case.

    Examples of Expert Witnesses in Car Accident Cases in NY

    Expert witnesses are not needed in every case.  Most car accident cases are going to involve minor injuries – if any – and the facts of the case will involve everyday events: running red lights, failing to yield, and tailgating.  It is only when a case involves more technical, scientific issues that experts are needed.  That can lead to experts being needed for the following issues:

    Explaining Complex Injuries

    Jurors and judges might be familiar with broken bones and cuts and scrapes, but some injuries are difficult to comprehend without a mini medical lesson.  Expert witnesses – usually doctors – can be called to explain these complex injuries.

    This is common with paralysis, brain injuries, and other complex injuries.  For example, some jurors and readers might understand what a herniated disc is, but it might be more impactful for the jury to get an explanation from a spinal surgeon who can explain that the herniation can lead to problems with walking that might interfere with the victim’s quality of life and ability to work.  Without an expert witness, it is difficult to get this kind of information about an injury into the record.

    Medical Malpractice

    It might seem odd to discuss medical malpractice in an article about car accidents, but it can be related.  If you seek medical care for a car accident and the doctors make mistakes that make your injury worse or leave the core injury untreated, the damages for that medical malpractice can often be included in a lawsuit against the driver who caused the crash in the first place.  Courts consider medical malpractice injuries a foreseeable result of a car accident’s medical treatment, meaning that you might need to prove medical malpractice to get damages in your car accident case.

    Proving medical malpractice usually requires an expert witness who can testify about what the standard of care is and how your doctor’s care fell below that standard.  Otherwise, it is difficult to deem something malpractice.

    Auto Defects

    Some accidents and crashes are caused – at least in part – by defective auto parts.  Proving that a defective auto part was what caused the crash is often difficult, and you will typically need auto engineers or other technicians and specialists to explain how that defect caused your crash.  You will also need engineers or auto part manufacturers to explain what was defective or dangerous about the auto part in the first place.  They can use their specialized knowledge and training to explain how the part was supposed to work and what went wrong with the part in this case.

    From complex systems like self-driving systems to seemingly simple auto parts like tires, there is a lot of engineering expertise that goes into making a car work right.

    Accident Reconstruction Experts

    There are people whose job is to look at the aftermath of a crash and use math and science to piece together how the crash happened.  As long as they are properly trained and applying proper scientific principles, their testimony can often be included as evidence in your case.

    These kinds of experts are sometimes needed to explain how complex crashes happened or to overcome the defendant’s story of how the crash happened.

    Financial Experts

    If your injury will keep you from working, you might need a financial expert to calculate lost wages.  If your injuries keep you from working at your full capacity or stop you from returning to work entirely, then you will miss out on years of income, raises, promotions, and other effects on your income.  Calculating these complex effects usually requires some kind of actuarial analysis or financial analysis from an expert witness.

    Call Our NY Car Accident Lawyers for a Free Case Review

    If you were hurt in a car accident, call The Carrion Law Firm’s Hempstead car accident attorneys at (718) 841-0083 for a free case review.