What is an Expert Witness?

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Your lawyer might hire expert witnesses to assist the jury in understanding complex aspects of your case.

These experts could be:

  • Accident reconstructionists
  • Doctors
  • Economists
  • Vocational rehabilitationalists
  • Seat belt experts
  • Toxicologists
  • Biomechanical engineers

These witnesses, if needed, can greatly enhance the value of your case, but they tend to be pretty expensive. Your lawyer is best qualified to determine if an expert is needed. Trust your lawyer’s judgment. Not all cases require expert witnesses, and sometimes, a jury can be turned off if you bring a “hired gun” to trial.

Why Are Expert Witnesses Important

Florida law says that if scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact in understanding the evidence or in determining a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may testify about it in the form of an opinion or otherwise, if:

  • (1)The testimony is based on sufficient facts or data;
  • (2)The testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods; and
  • (3)The witness has applied the principles and methods reliably to the facts of the case. Fla. Stat. § 90.702.

An expert’s opinion must be based on facts or inferences supported by the record. The conclusion or opinion of an expert witness based on facts or inferences not supported by the evidence in a case has no evidentiary value.

Under the Evidence Code, to be admissible, expert testimony must concern a subject beyond the common understanding of the average person. Furthermore, an expert should not be permitted to simply summarize what the expert has been told by lay witnesses§ 90.702, Fla Stat.

In addition, expert testimony should not be admitted if there is a substantial danger of unfair prejudice outweighing its probative value. The courts have recognized that juries tend to give greater importance and validity to the testimony of an expert witness. Allowing an expert to testify on matters of common understanding creates the possibility that the jury will simply accept the expert’s word and will forego independent analysis of the facts.

The jury may accept expert witness testimony, reject it, or give it the weight the jury thinks it deserves, considering the knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education of the witness, the reasons given by the witness for the opinion expressed, and all other evidence in the case. For example, the jury is free to accept or reject the testimony of a medical expert just as it may accept or reject that of any other expert.

Contact Carey Leisure Carney for a Consultation on Your Personal Injury Case

In personal injury cases, we may employ an accident reconstruction expert, or a variety of medical experts to help prove the case and win the maximum amount of damages for our client. This is a decision made only by our qualified team of attorneys at Carey Leisure Carney.