Serious personal injury cases often involve disputes over complex legal issues that the average person has trouble understanding. Both the plaintiff’s and the defendant’s attorneys can argue endlessly about medical and technical matters, but ultimately only a qualified professional in the relevant field can provide meaningful analysis and opinion. For this reason, many cases may ultimately hinge on the ability of each side’s attorney to utilize credible experts effectively to prove the important details of a case.
Generally, witnesses in a civil case are only permitted to testify about things they actually saw, although they may be permitted to offer limited opinions based on those perceptions. Under the North Carolina Rules of Evidence, expert witnesses are different. Once properly qualified as an expert in his or her respective field, an expert witness may offer fairly unrestricted opinion testimony, even on matters of which he or she had no firsthand knowledge.
There are several types of experts whose testimony can be useful in a personal injury case:
- Medical experts to analyze medical records and establish the existence, causation and effect of injuries
- Accident reconstruction experts to establish how a collision occurred when the cause is not otherwise clear
- Vocational experts to look at medical records and opinions and establish the impact an injury could have on the victim’s current and future ability to work
- Economic experts to examine prior financials as well as medical and vocational opinions to determine the long-term economic impact an injury could have
The type of expert testimony required depends on the specific circumstances of the claim. However, in most auto accident and other personal injury cases in North Carolina, some type of expert testimony is usually necessary when there is a dispute. An effective attorney knows how to retain appropriate and credible experts and how to get the most out of expert testimony in order to help injured clients obtain the maximum compensation available.