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The Role of an Expert in an Injury Case

expert witness in personal injury case

Personal injury law attempts to make you whole after you have been injured by a product or practice through no fault of your own. Whether a drug, medical device, auto, truck, motorcycle accident, or medical malpractice – you didn’t ask to be hurt.

You had an expectation that others would do their job and act with responsibility and care. They failed to do so. Your option is to file a civil lawsuit alleging personal injury.

There is an element of Alabama law that we can help you understand. Something called “contributory negligence” is a concession to industry. It means if you are found to have contributed, not matter how little, to your injury, you may be barred from recovering any damages.

Personal Injury Law

If you are injured through someone else’s negligence, first and foremost, you must seek medical care. Not only does it make the most sense to get a diagnosis and treatment as soon as it is possible, but it also helps your case if you were injured enough to see a doctor.

If you never sought medical care, it may be far more difficult to recover the compensation you need and deserve.

Remember, Alabama law requires you to file a lawsuit within two years of your injury, or when your injury became known. This is called the statute of limitations (SOL) in a personal injury lawsuit.

Filing outside of the statute means that, in almost all cases, there may be nothing an attorney can do to help you. 

You are considered the plaintiff, while the other side is considered the defendant. They must defend themselves from the allegations that they failed to act in a reasonable manner and that carelessness resulted in your injury.

As the plaintiff, you need to prove those things enough to clear the high bar Alabama sets for plaintiffs in personal injury cases in order to obtain a successful outcome. That’s where an expert witness can help.

An Expert Witness

An expert witness is usually an expert in their chosen field with advanced degrees and training.

For example, you allege that a medical device was defectively manufactured and that the maker failed to warn the implanting doctor.

Your expert witness may have an advanced degree in the regulatory approval process. They may testify on how medical devices make it to market through the Food and Drug Administration’s 510(k) clearance process, eliminating the need for clinical trials that assure safety and efficacy.

Your expert witness can testify with certainty as to whether the medical device maker followed the rules and procedures for bringing a device onto the market. They can testify if the warnings attached to that device were adequate enough to let the doctor, the end user, provide truth and complete informed consent to you, the patient.

If the “Instructions for Use” that are part of the label are insufficient, then your expert can explain why. For example, maybe the specific injury you suffered is not on the warning label but should have been. That fact may help substantiate your claim of negligence on the part of the manufacturer.

A Financial Expert

An expert witness may be able to tell the jury, with a degree of certainty, what your future medical costs will be. If that expert has prepared a life plan, they will be able to testify as to the specific care you will require and what it will cost over the number of years you are expected to live. 

This is important information for the jury to have to begin thinking of an adequate dollar amount to award you, otherwise known as “damages.” Without the expert testimony, the jurors are left to guessing.

Another abstract thought is “pain and suffering,” the mental anguish that can accompany an accident. Since one cannot see “pain and suffering,” an expert in mental health can explain the trauma and stress that the plaintiff may be reliving after an accident. Years of therapy and counseling should be considered as part of your compensation.

An expert may also be an accident reconstructionist who can recreate for the jury what happened during your crash and determine the probable cause and who was at fault.

Your legal team will be compensating your expert witness for their testimony and time, to come up with an expert report and recommendations. This payment will come out of a jury award of settlement amount.

Speak with a Seasoned Alabama Personal Injury Attorney

If you or someone close to you was injured because of someone else’s negligence, you need skilled legal counsel by your side advocating aggressively for your rights and interests. At Smith & McGhee, PC, we have extensive experience successfully representing Alabama clients in personal injury cases. Call us today at 334-702-1744 to schedule a free consultation, or send us a message through our web contact form.