In many cases that go to trial, expert testimony plays a significant role in determining whether a case is won or lost. An expert’s well-presented testimony can add credibility to arguments made in court, and experts may also be able to provide their own evidence that supports a case.
What Experts Can Do During a Testimony
Experts can support arguments and disprove others in a number of ways. An expert can help attorneys and jurors better understand concepts they are unfamiliar with. Through their testimony, experts can also effectively recreate certain experiences that others involved in the case would not be able to fully realize. Using models and other visual aids, they can simulate the events that took place, as long as the demonstration is sufficiently similar to the conditions of the actual event.
Unlike other witnesses who testify in a case, expert witnesses aren’t typically those who were involved in the accident or incident. Instead, expert witnesses provide a unique perspective based on the details of the case, potentially supporting or disproving claims made by plaintiffs or defendants.
Many professionals can serve as expert witnesses in a case. In a case involving a workers’ compensation accident, for example, a doctor may review an injured worker’s medical records and provide testimony validating that injury. In other cases such as those involving a car accident, the expert witness may be a forensics expert who can piece together the scene of the accident using three-dimensional models and evidence collected, including CCTV footage. He or she may then be able to help determine who was at fault based on the combination of the circumstances and evidence present.
When Experts Are Needed
In many cases, other evidence may be substantial enough to help prove the plaintiff or defendant’s case. However, cases are oftentimes more complex and it can be difficult to prove what took place. In cases where the circumstances of a particular incident aren’t as clear to either party involved, expert witnesses can help clarify events and support a lawsuit or claim.
Making Sure the Testimony Counts
Attorneys should familiarize themselves with the tools that they can use to facilitate the admission of expert testimony. They should also know how they can use the Rules of Evidence to refute the opposing counsel’s expert testimony if they choose to bring in their own expert.
The Rules of Evidence help determine the permissible scope of the testimony. If a case requires input from parties with more knowledge than what the jury possesses, expert witnesses are permissible if they have the expertise that can contribute to the understanding of a case. Subsequently, the trial counsel will need to be familiar with the expert’s qualifications, understand the records and context from which the expert formed his or her opinion, and be able to confirm whether the expert’s opinion was based on proper methodologies.
Whether used to support criminal law defense arguments or arguments in civil cases, expert testimony can be invaluable to either party in helping win a case.