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Expert Witness

Definition - What does Expert Witness mean?

An expert witness is an individual asked to testify at a personal injury trial who has expert skill, experience, training, education, or knowledge about a personal injury claim. Expert witnesses are a critical component of many civil lawsuits and can develop, evaluate, and prepare defense information or prosecutorial information for trials.

An expert witness must be able to offer reliable information based on sufficient facts, information which is the product of reliable principles and methods, and information which is applied reliably to the facts of the personal injury claim.

Hiring an expert witness

In personal injury cases the expert witness will vary based on the type of personal injury claim. For instance, if you have been involved in a car accident, boating accident, or motorcycle accident the expert witness is generally the accident reconstruction expert who has specialized training in reconstructing how the accident happened. They can also offer an opinion on what it was that actually caused the accident.

If you have been injured due to the negligence of a medical professional and have filed a medical malpractice case, however, you will most likely need testimony from a medical expert. Due to the complexity of a medical malpractice claims some states do not allow a claimant to file a medical malpractice suit until they have a medical expert's opinion. The jury is not required to adopt the expert's opinion but must use it to consider the facts.

Costs of hiring an expert witness

Studies suggest it could cost as much as $555 per hour on average to hire a medical expert, although a medical expert witness on average earns more than double (124% more) what non-medical expert witnesses earn. Costs could be reduced, however, if you only need them to file reviews and prepare information for your personal injury case. If they have to appear in court and offer testimony, you will, on average, have to pay significantly more for their time. For instance, studies indicate the average hourly fee for trial testimony is 52% higher than the average hourly fee for file reviews and preparation.

When do I hire an expert witness?

Before hiring an expert witness discuss your injury claim with an injury lawyer. After the initial review of the injury case you and your legally counsel should be able to decide if the circumstances of the case require expert testimony. Defensive lawyers should also decide whether they need to hire an expert witness when the case is first received.

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