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What Is an Expert Witness and Why Are They Valuable?

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If you have suffered an injury or other damages and are or are considering using an expert witness for your upcoming trial, it is important to know what exactly an expert witness is and the benefit and value of these specialized witnesses. This article discusses expert witnesses, who they are, the rules surrounding the use of expert witnesses, and why expert witnesses matter.

What is an Expert Witness?

An expert witness is a person that is specialized in a particular area or areas and whose expertise will assist a jury in understanding factual evidence of a case, thus aiding a jury in making their final determination. Expert witnesses have immense influence over juries and judges in making decisions during trial. Due to the importance of expert witnesses, the Federal Rules of Evidence 702 lay out specific and stern admissibility standards for experts. Rule 702 specifies that a witness who is qualified as an expert may testify in the form of an opinion if: their technical knowledge will help a juror understand the evidence or determine a fact, the testimony is based on sufficient data, the testimony is reliable, and if the expert has reliably applied the principles and methods to the facts of the case. An expert witness is determined to be reliable only if they satisfy all four pillars contained and defined in Rule 702.

Expert Witnesses in Court

Typically, witnesses are prohibited from testifying based on their own opinions. See Federal Rules of Evidence (FRE) 602. However, this is not the standard used for expert witnesses. Expert witnesses are permitted to testify about matters within their field of expertise and give their opinions and analyses. In state court, rules surrounding witnesses vary by jurisdiction. Generally, experts are allowed to testify about their conclusions in a case as well as their conclusions and analysis are scientifically sound. Expert witnesses are permitted to rely on evidence that is normally relied on in their work even if that evidence is typically inadmissible in court. As long as their testimony is aiding jurors, experts can testify on any subject in their area of expertise.

Benefits of Expert Witnesses

A party to a case does not get to pick their lay witnesses. People who are witnesses and testify in trials are purely a consequence of circumstance. Lay witnesses are simply those who happened to be at the place of the event that is at issue in a case and witnessed what occurred. One of the benefits of an expert witness is that a party or attorney may, within boundaries set by evidentiary standards, choose who they want to testify as an expert. Not every case will have an expert witness but if you are involved in a case that calls for one, choosing who you want to testify as an expert is an advantage. Parties should consider things such as an expert’s public speaking abilities, demeanor, and general teachability when deciding who they want to be their expert.

Additionally, expert witnesses can provide objectivity when evaluating what happened and providing their conclusions. This objectivity as well as credibility inherent in expert witnesses bodes well with jurors. These specialized witnesses are able to explain scientific principles, give background and context to information or concepts that lay jurors are presented with. They are important in many cases especially where complex and nuanced information are at play. Thinking critically about what expert to choose, what you want them to discuss, and how they present their testimony and information is vital to getting the most out of your expert witness. Used correctly, having these tools and advantages on your side throughout a trial can play a huge role in a party’s ultimate success.

Call Grover Law Firm

Hiring an attorney allows you to focus on your recovery. Your attorney will handle all contact with the at-fault party and their insurance company. Your attorney will work hard to get you a fair compensation. Call Mark Grover with the Grover Law Firm at 913-432-1000 to set up your free consultation today.

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.