Personal injury cases are complex matters to say the least. It is not simply a matter of a client receiving an injury due to gross negligence on the part of someone else, and then putting forward a personal injury claim. There are many various facets to a personal injury case, whether that case proceeds to court or not. Factors such as liability, evidence, damages etc. are just some of those areas involved. Let’s say someone receives poor medical treatment and is left worse-off as a result of their doctor’s malpractice. This type of case would require expert advice, knowledge and testimony from a medical expert such as a doctor. In most cases it is the agreement of the expert in regards to liability and causation that eventually sees the plaintiff is awarded a settlement.
As mentioned previously, expert witnesses are often essential to the outcome of a personal injury case whether it goes to court or not. Expert witnesses fall into several categories covering a range of expertise that can be utilized depending on your particular circumstance. The Categories are:
• Treating physician
• Laboratory technician
• Accident reconstruction expert
• Handwriting specialist
• Forensic pathologist
• Many other fields
Expert witnesses are generally needed for two reasons, either to testify in court on your behalf as their opinion can sway the case in your favor due to their expertise. This is an important part of many personal injury cases that go to court because in general, witnesses are not allowed to give their opinion in court. However, expert witnesses are, and this means that quite often, their expert opinion is called upon in order to better shed light upon the intricacies of an ongoing court case.
In order to testify on your behalf, your expert witness or witnesses must be qualified to do so. This means that they either need to be experienced or educated in a field that will help the jury to better understand a facet of the case they might otherwise not get. Using common methodology to put forward their opinion on the matter, expert witnesses’ opinions must be realistic and have a probable degree of certainty attached to them in order to carry any weight in court.
When you hire a personal injury attorney like Jorge L. Gomez who has a wealth of experience in such cases, one of the first things they will do is assemble a team of expert witnesses who can opine on the case. For example, let’s say you were involved in a car accident and are up against a stern opposition determined to prove that you are liable for the damages incurred. In such a case, a team of expert witnesses would be able to give you the edge and help you get a fair result.
Your personal injury lawyer might recruit an accident reconstruction expert who will then examine in detail the accident, scene and evidence before testifying on your behalf to prove the other party is liable. In addition, your personal injury attorney may also call upon the physician who treated you in order to prove the severity, both short term and long term of your injuries and the likely cost of treatment.
As you can see, expert witnesses are an integral part of any personal injury case as to eliminate any doubt of liability and damages involved. Not only can they help prove that you are free of any blame but also help you to be awarded a fair settlement – one that covers each area, such as loss of wages, mental trauma and physical injuries suffered.
Your personal injury attorney will not always require the testimony of the expert witnesses involved, rather they will be hired for other reasons which are just as important:
• To review files and documents
• Review accident reports
• Interpret data
• Conduct accident reconstructions
• Review medical records
• Carry out research and testing
It is normal though for expert witnesses to ultimately end up having to testify in court on behalf of the plaintiff, in order to back up any evidence brought forward.
Even if your personal injury attorney is working under a contingency fee agreement the cost of hiring an expert witness can be quite substantial, especially as expert witness costs are often advanced.
Many experts require a retainer (prepayment) paid up front and depending on the field, this can be very expensive, with the average retainer cost currently at around $4000. This is the first of several costs involved with hiring an expert witness.
Other costs include:
• Various types of paperwork such as file review, preparation, deposition and trial appearance.
• Travel expenses if the expert lives out of state you may have to travel to them in order to be examined, or they may have to travel a substantial distance in order to appear in court – the costs of which will be paid by you.
• In-court testimony hourly rates which range from $300 – $600 per hour but can be higher for medical experts.
Clearly, expert witnesses are essential to your cause when pursuing a settlement for a personal injury suffered, however you must be prepared to put your hand in your pocket. Bear in mind also, that expert witnesses can make the difference and help you to be awarded a substantial settlement that will not only cover the cost of your injuries and losses but also the cost incurred in the process.
If you or someone you know has been involved in an accident and feel that you are eligible for a personal injury claim, please get in touch with our Houston personal injury attorney from Gomez Law Firm as soon as possible for a free consultation. Using our considerable experience and personal approach, we will put your mind at ease and help you to make a decision regarding your particular case. Call us today on (713) 868 5528 to receive our expert advice.