When a car or truck accident case goes to trial, expert witnesses often play important roles in supporting a plaintiff’s claim for damages. Cases end up in court when a settlement can’t be reached between the injured victim and the at-fault party’s insurance company. There may be a question about fault in the crash, or a dispute about the extent of the plaintiff’s injuries—or both.
In this situation, the plaintiff’s attorney may call experts to testify on his behalf. After having examined the scene of the crash or the victim’s injuries, these witnesses offer their expert opinions in court. Attorneys may call a variety of experts, from traffic engineers to medical specialists, to support a plaintiff’s claim for damages.
Types of Experts Who May Be Called
Depending on which facts of the case are in dispute, a variety of experts could be called upon to offer testimonies in a car crash case. Often, the evidence gathered at the scene of the crash by responding police officers isn't adequate to prove definitively what happened to cause the crash. Sometimes, the medical opinion of a third party is needed to confirm the treating physician’s diagnosis and recovery plan.
Experts who can be called in a car crash case include the following:
- Accident reconstructionist. These engineers have received extensive training in crash mechanics, vehicle dynamics, and event data recorder technology. They investigate the accident to determine vehicle speed and other factors that may have contributed to the cause of the crash.
- Phone records specialist. If there's a suspicion that use of a communication device contributed to the crash, a phone records specialist can examine incoming and outgoing communications on the driver’s phone to determine if he or she was distracted at the time of the crash.
- Medical specialists. While the plaintiff’s own doctors may testify and present medical evidence, insurance adjusters and courts may need third-party confirmation of the extent of injuries in order to justify compensation. Orthopedic surgeons, neurologists, toxicologists, and other medical experts may be called to examine the plaintiff and his or her records, and testify.
- Life care planner. When an accident victim is permanently disabled, it can be difficult to determine what it will cost to support the person for the rest of his or her life. A life care planner can provide information about the costs of long-term care, rehabilitation, future medical care, and potential earnings.
- Economic expert. Economists have an understanding of earning capacity, inflation, cost of living, and other factors that will affect an injured victim’s ability to earn a living. They will also be able to calculate potential financial losses due to a change in employment as a result of injuries.
A Recent Case Result Using Expert Witnesses
Our law firm recently called upon several expert witnesses in representing the victim of a devastating drunk driving crash. Our client suffered traumatic brain injury, a fractured foot, and soft tissue damage to her neck and back. The drunk driver was driving a commercial vehicle at the time of the accident, so there were potential damages available from several insurance policies.
However, making such a claim required strong evidence of fault and the severity of injuries. We called the following expert witnesses in the case:
- An accident reconstructionist. Our expert examined the scene and determined that the drunk driver was driving at least 50 mph in a 25 mph zone when he crossed the center line and struck our client head-on. The expert further concluded that our client wouldn't have had sufficient time to react and avoid the collision.
- A neuropsychologist. This doctor conducted comprehensive neuropsychological testing and determined that our client was permanently disabled as a result of her traumatic brain injury. He also recommended future medical care, including several different therapeutic treatments, which would improve her quality of life.
- An economic expert. It can be difficult to quantify the amount of earnings an accident victim will lose as a result of permanent injuries such as these. However, we hired a local economic expert to perform an economic loss analysis to determine what our client’s past and future wage loss would be.
With the help of these experts, we were able to secure the maximum policy limits from two different insurance policies, for a total recovery of $3 million for our client. Our case was definitely strengthened with the expert opinions of our witnesses.
Have You Been Injured In A Kansas City Area Car Accident?
If you've been injured in a car accident you need to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Kansas City office directly at 816.471.5111 to schedule your free consultation.