Do I Need An Expert Witness?

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    May 22 2019

    Whether you were injured in a car accident or suffered medical malpractice at the hands of a negligent doctor, hiring an expert witness could play an important role in winning your personal injury lawsuit.  

    An expert witness may be crucial to your case.

    What is an Expert Witness?

    An expert witness is a professional who has education, knowledge, training, skill, and experience in a specific discipline.  A expert witness’s role is to provide a trial court with an impartial opinion based on complex facts that may be difficult for the average person to understand.

    In personal injury cases involving car accidents, the most common types of experts used are medical professionals and accident reconstructionists.  A medical expert is useful to provide expert testimony about the nature and severity of a plaintiff’s injuries. An accident reconstructionist is helpful in explaining how technical evidence shows how a crash occurred.  

    If your attorney advises that an expert witness is necessary, it is likely because the expert testimony will be useful in helping to substantiate your claim and improve your chances of winning monetary damages.  Generally both sides will hire their own experts. In a personal injury trial, there will typically be plaintiff’s experts and experts hired by the insurance companies.

    There are many different types of expert witnesses, including: medical, financial, real estate, forensic, DNA, and vocational.  Selecting the proper type of expert is something that an experienced attorney can help you with.

    In some cases, expert witnesses are required.  For example, if liability for personal injury or death is to be imposed on a provider of medical care, based on a finding of negligence, some form of evidence establishing the acceptable standard of care, to include the use of expert testimony, must be put into evidence by the plaintiff. (See NRS 41A.100; Beattie v. Thomas, 99 Nev. 579, 668 P.2d 268. (1983)).

    How Can an Expert Witness Help You Win Your Case?

    Retaining an expert witness can have a significant impact on your case.  In the context of a personal injury case, an expert witness can help to explain complicated medical terminology, convey complex data in layman’s terms, and offer important insights.

    An expert may also be able to establish the long-term impact of your injuries.  If you will be out of work for an extended period of time, and expert opinion on the predicted economic losses that will occur over the course of your life will be helpful.  If you are suffering emotional or psychological stress, a mental health expert may be able to help put a monetary value on the damages you are suffering.

    Another advantage to having an expert on your side is that it can help speed up the litigation process.  If you have an experienced and well-regarded expert give an opinion that is favorable to you, it may encourage the other side to settle quickly or help you defeat a motion for summary judgment that has been filed by the other side.

    How Does Someone Qualify as an Expert Witness?

    There are many ways to qualify as an expert, whether it is through formal education or specific on-the-job experience.  The ideal expert witness will usually have an advanced degree in his or her field. An expert will also often have a distinguished career, publishing work in well-regarded journals or trade publications, speaking at professional conferences, sitting on the board of directors of industry organizations, winning awards, and being quoted by the media.

    The Nevada, the statutory standard that governs the admissibility of expert evidence is NRS 50.275.  This law states that a qualified expert may testify about matters that are within an expert’s scope of knowledge as long as the testimony will assist the trier of fact in understanding the evidence or determine a fact in issue.  

    In Hallmark v. Eldridge, the Nevada Supreme Court explained the qualification requirement.  It ruled that an expert may qualify to give expert testimony in an area of specific, technical or other special knowledge based on a witness’ formal schooling and academic degrees, professional licenses, employment experience, and practical experience and specialized training.   The expert’s opinions must be relevant to the case and based on reliable methodology and the opinions must be within the limited scope of the witness’ specialized knowledge (the limited scope requirement).

    To determine whether expert witness testimony is based on a specific methodology, the court will consider whether: it is within a recognized field of expertise; its method is testable and has been tested; it is published and subjected to peer review; it is generally accepted in the scientific community; and it is based more on particularized facts than assumptions, conjecture, or generalizations.

    Nevada courts are the only courts that follow this particular rule for deciding the admissibility of expert testimony.  Federal courts and many other states in the United States instead follow the standard set by Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc.  Yet other states, including the neighboring state of California, follow the standard set in Frye v. United States.  However, Nevada expressly chose not to follow the standards set by Daubert or Frye.   See Yamaha Motor Co. v. Arnoult, 955 P.2d 661 (Nev. 1998); Higgs v. Nevada, 222 P.3d 648 (Nev. 2010).  

    Experienced Las Vegas, NV Personal Injury Law Firm

    If you or a loved one has been injured because of another person, contact Anthem Injury Lawyers at (702) 987-2020 for a Free Consultation.  Our experienced Personal Injury Lawyers are ready to review your case.  We have a large network of trained professionals who are ready to provide expert witness services if your case requires it.  Our office is in Henderson, but we work with clients all over the state of Nevada.

    Published by Anthony Golden

    Attorney Anthony B. Golden (“Tony”) is one of the founding partners of Anthem Injury Lawyers. Tony represents clients in all aspects of personal injury cases, from pre-litigation through jury trials and appeals. Tony has a proven track record of successfully representing clients in trials, arbitration, and appeals, as well as assisting clients in resolving high-value cases in mediation.

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