How Experts Can Help Your Accident Case
Proper use of expert testimony can often make the difference between winning and losing your Georgia personal injury case. But did you know that personal injury attorneys also can use expert witnesses to increase the value of your injury case, even if the facts of the actual injury incident are not in dispute?
In this article, we will discuss the ways in which expert witnesses can help win or increase the value of your Georgia injury claim or case. We’ll show you what kind of experts you might need or want to call as witnesses in your case, how they work, and what results you can expect. We’ll answer some of the most common questions our clients have, and we’ll even give you a bit of advice about finding the best experts and law firm to represent you.
- What is an Expert Witness?
- What does an Accident Reconstruction Specialist do?
- Will we need to call medical experts?
- I don’t even know a financial analyst – why would I need one?
- How can a mechanical expert help prove my case?
- Do I need a specially qualified attorney to handle my accident case?
What is an Expert Witness?
Generally speaking, under Georgia law an expert witness is a person who has specialized knowledge, often in a technical or scientific area, that will assist the Court or Jurors to understand case evidence or help them to decide a fact. O.C.G.A. 24-9.67.1. To be qualified as an expert witness, a Court (Judge) must find that the witness has special knowledge, skill training or education beyond that of an ordinary lay person, which will help explain evidence or fact that are outside the common every day experience of lay persons. O.C.G.A. 24-9-67.1(b)(1).
What does an Accident Reconstruction Expert do?
One type of expert witness commonly used in car, truck and motorcycle accident cases is an Accident Reconstruction specialist. Often, these experts are retired Georgia State Patrol Officers, but they can also have an engineering or academic background. Accident Reconstruction experts can provide information about a motor vehicle accident that goes beyond what is found in a police report. An Accident reconstruction specialist can use principles of engineering and physics to explain vehicle speeds, trajectories, the force of impact and the force involved in the movement of vehicles and/or vehicle occupants to help juries understand the devastating consequences of the accident. They also can examine the accident scene, damaged vehicles and the event data recorder (EDR), or “black box,” which is a feature found today in many automobiles. Together, with the help of an accident reconstruction specialist, the picture of the accident can come alive in the courtroom.
Will we need to call medical experts?
Not everybody can look at medical records, studies and test results, understand and explain them in a Georgia court of law. We may be able to see a broken bone in an X-ray image or a herniated disc in an MRI, but that doesn’t mean we know what caused it, or what it will take to mend the injury. Medical experts are specialists who can examine your medical records and assess the extent of your injuries, including how long physical and psychological problems may linger because of your injuries. They can assess the treatment program required to help you to fully recover from the accident and they can also discuss how that recovery will impact your quality of life.
What is an economist or financial analyst and why would I need one?
Part of the settlement or verdict you deserve may be based upon the total amount of money the accident costs you, past and future. In many cases, we as personal injury attorneys rely on expert economists and vocational experts. In serious injury cases affecting your ability to work, such experts can assess future financial losses because of your inability to return to work or your ability to return only to a position that pays you less than what you earned before your accident and injuries. These experts can be most helpful in helping the insurance company, court and Jurors understand how your life will change in the wake of a tragic accident.
How can an engineer or mechanic help to prove my case?
Your legal team may consult with engineers, accident reconstruction experts or even certified mechanics to examine the vehicles involved in your crash to determine how and why the crash happened and if negligent maintenance or faulty parts might have contributed to the accident.
Shelby’s Story: An example** of how expert testimony may be used in Court.
Shelby Stevens, a young mother, lost her life when the furniture delivery truck ahead of her hydroplaned on a rainy night, flipped over, and crushed her small car.
Steven’s husband, Brent hired a personal injury law firm to handle his wrongful death claim against the truck driver and the company for which he worked. An accident reconstruction expert examined the vehicles involved and discovered that the truck’s tires were low on tread, and measurements determined that the truck’s tires had less than the 4/32 of an inch of tread required for commercial vehicles in the State of Georgia, under O.C.G.A. 40-8-74. In other words, the truck’s tires were bald.
Mister Stevens’ legal team advised him that, in addition to the wrongful death action against the driver himself, a claim may exist against the company for failing to properly equip and maintain the truck with safe tires. Additionally, another claim was found to exist against yet another company that had failed to properly maintain the vehicle, because service and maintenance were contracted out to a vendor.
**This is not an actual case, but is similar to many similar matters that our firm has handled.
This illustration demonstrates how working closely with expert witnesses and other consultants, the attorneys of the Millar Law Firm develops a clear picture of what happened in your Georgia truck or car (auto) accident, the injuries you suffered and what it will take to compensate you for your losses and help you to move forward.
Do I need a specially qualified attorney to handle my accident case?
We believe the answer to this question is a resounding YES.
No attorney is trained to do everything. While they all learn about many differing situations in which the law must intervene, the more practice a lawyer has in one field, the more apt he or she is to be successful in cases of that nature.
Brain surgeons work on brains day in and day out. They may not be fully equipped to surgically repair an aortic aneurism of the abdomen. Seeking a specialist who works with your particular problem every day has huge advantages. Finding an attorney who handles personal injury claims successfully is the best way to deal with personal injury matters.
The first step in finding a qualified personal injury lawyer is to take advantage of the free case evaluation that reputable law firms offer. The legal team will review the facts and evidence in your claim and examine it carefully to determine what the best course of action is for your case. As in Shelby’s case, they may discover other defendants that should be held accountable for your damages.
If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident as a result of somebody else’s negligence, call the experienced legal team at the Millar Law firm. We have the resources, the training, and the talent to help you find justice. Call or email us today for your free case evaluation.