Most serious disabling injury cases come down to the witnesses. In any case, witnesses can be either fact witnesses or expert witnesses.
A fact witness is someone who has personal knowledge of the specifics facts at issue. This may be someone who actually saw the accident – an eye witness to the accident for example. It may be a medical doctor who treated you and testifies to the facts of your treatment.
The other type of witness important to disabling personal injury cases is an expert witness.
An expert witness is typically an individual who has specialized knowledge, training, or skill in a particular field, and who can provide some information relevant to your case. Expert witnesses are often hired by both sides in a case, and many times play a critical role in the outcome.
There are many types of expert witnesses used in personal injury cases, - a few are discussed here.
Experts on How The Accident Happened
Car Accident Reconstructionist – This expert is usually a consultant for a collision analysis, reconstruction of the accident, injury reconstruction, and crashworthiness. An accident reconstructionist may also provide reports that focus on collision speed and vehicle safety. This type of expert witness may also testify about acceleration, right-of-way, braking, steering angles, and other issues related to vehicle crashes.
Maintenance Specialist – This expert can be helpfu1 in 18-wheeler involved crashes. Maintenance specialists can show whether a trucking company did or did not perform required maintenance as claimed and whether the failure caused or contributed to the crash.
DOT Regulations Specialist - Department of Transportation regulations are extensive. An expert can help your attorney determine if certain safety type products (helmets, tires, airbags, etc.) were properly tested prior to being put on the market. This expert can also help establish whether a trucking company’s drivers followed the safety rules and DOT regulations, and if not how that may have led to the accident.
Cell Phone Records Specialist – In the information age and age of distracted driving, cell phone records are frequently used as evidence in crash cases. This expert can provide information used to demonstrate whether or not the other driver was likely using their mobile phone at the time of the crash.
Vehicle Information Specialist - Data from the vehicle’s ECM (electronic control module) and EDR (event data recorder) or “black box” is important in some cases and it takes an expert who knows how to read and recover it. The information from this witness can be used to show various information regarding the vehicle’s actions immediately prior to an accident. This witness can help determine whether or not the driver’s actions or inactions may have contributed to the crash. They may also be able to show if the driver had exceeded the federal hours-of-service rules (too much time on the road) mandated by the FMCSA.
Forensic Toxicologist - A forensic toxicologist provides clarification in disabling injury cases that involve an investigation into drug interactions, drunk driving, drugged driving, poisoning, and other cases that involve chemical ingestion or inhalation.
Experts On Injury Type
Medical Doctors in General – Medical doctors can review the facts of the case in order to understand all the issues and objectively clarify any relevant medical questions. They may also assess the condition of the patient in order to determine the appropriate ongoing medical care and to assess the need for more specialized care in the future.
Neurologist/Neurosurgeon - Neurology experts may provide testimony on a variety of topics relating to the brain, spinal cord, and nerves. Oftentimes, a neurologist may be needed to testify to the degree of your injury, your level of disability, and your treatment plan moving forward. The neurologist/neurosurgeon can also provide assistance with connecting the incident to your injury.
Neuro-Psychologist – this is a medical doctor trained in both neurology and psychology, and this expert can be very important in cases with traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and mild traumatic brain injury cases. These cases often require years of rehabilitation or assistive care, and you need to take this into consideration before accepting any settlement with the insurance company or at fault party.
Orthopedist/Orthopedic Surgeon – This is a doctor who specializes in bones and muscle/tendon/ligaments. An orthopedic surgeon can provide testimony regarding all aspects of your orthopedic injuries, including your level of disability and future outlook. They may provide reports related to surgery, arthroplasty, hip replacement, spinal injuries, and other issues related to the musculoskeletal system.
Medical Examiner/Pathologist – A medical examiner, or coroner, is typically a pathologist and are responsible for evaluating the cause(s) of death. Testimony from this expert can be vital to a wrongful death case and help with determining responsibility. A pathologist conducts examinations and autopsies and can provide qualified and objective opinions on a victim’s medical condition and cause of death.
Pain Management Specialist - Since some types of injuries can leave a victim with chronic pain and discomfort, the injured party can often help his/her case by using the testimony of a pain management specialist in order to demonstrate the full value of their related damages. This expert witness can testify about the extent of pain the victim suffers, how it affects his quality of life, as well as how much compensation will be needed to pay for future treatment.
Experts on Cost of Injury Issues
Life Care Planner - Life care planners are utilized to offer testimony on areas such as disability management, the cost of future care expenses, helping figure out the loss of income, and more. These skilled experts may also provide testimony in the areas of an individual’s earning capacity, reduced ability to perform a prior job, future earning capacity, the severity of the disability, life expectancy, and other related topics.
Vocational Specialist - Vocational experts testify concerning the types of jobs available for an injured party given the residual functional capacity, and the effect of an injury on a person’s ability to perform any type of work on a sustained and consistent basis. VEs can also provide testimony regarding a person’s past work and any transferable skills. Their testimony can establish diminished earning capacity.
Rehabilitation Specialist - Rehabilitation specialists focus on helping an injured party improve and restore functional ability following an injury – they could be a physical therapist/occupational therapist/speech therapist. They may also work with those who have permanent disabilities such as spinal cord injuries or a loss of limb. These experts can provide evidence concerning future rehabilitation needs and associated costs.
Which specific experts will be necessary for your case is dependent on the specific facts of each case. Some cases require many; others require few. A skilled and experienced attorney familiar with disabling injuries can help guide your case by choosing the experts most appropriate for your injuries and incident.
If you or someone you love has suffered a disabling injury requiring hospitalization or causing you to miss work, give us a call at 985-240-9773. We have the experience to guide you through this difficult process and advise you on both the injury and the disability aspects of your claim.