What Cases Use Expert Witnesses? Part Two
The types of experts that may be retained are as varied as the subjects that lawyers may litigate. Expert witnesses. The primary purpose of an expert witness is to provide knowledge and insight into a technical area that may not be readily known or understood by the average fact finder. The more complex that a legal matter is, the more likely one or more expert witnesses will be required to testify.
Expert testimony often addresses those facts which determine liability. As a result, expert witnesses may make or break a case. Lawyers must find an expert with more than an impressive resume – one who advances the case’s legal theory and fits within an attorney’s trial strategy, thus increasing the chances of a favorable outcome.
Medical experts include doctors, nurse practitioners, physical therapists, or any other medically trained professional. Medical experts typically testify in medical malpractice or personal injury cases when their area of expertise is directly related to the plaintiff’s injuries. Medical experts may also testify about the level of pain and suffering experienced, additional required surgeries, or whether the person will ever make a complete recovery. A medical expert may also discuss those limitations that an injured party may experience as the result of an injury. A forensic pathologist may testify as to cause and manner of death in homicide cases.
*Mental Health Experts
Many legal cases may address the mental health of one or more of the parties. For example, when considering whether someone was of sound mind when they changed their will, whether someone was criminally insane when they committed a criminal act, or whether someone’s competency has been restored sufficiently so that he or she may return to handling their financial affairs.
Parenting experts proffer expert testimony in many family law cases, including adoption, divorce, and the termination of parental rights. Parenting experts may actually spend time with parents and children to evaluate the home life offered by each parent and make recommendations to reflect the best interests of the children involved.
These experts are often used in cases involving white-collar crimes such as fraud. A securities expert may examine the evidence and the state of the market contemporaneously with the alleged conduct to determine the existence of intentional fraud. These experts may also assess whether a bank or other financial institution failed to meet fiduciary duties through some action or inaction.
Vocational experts offer opinions on whether someone is capable of returning to work and at what capacity. They may also testify about the extent of time required to train a person in a particular skill set or job so that they may maintain financial independence. This type of testimony may be used in personal injury cases to measure lost future wages. It may also be used in divorce cases to answer the question as to how long one spouse may require alimony or spousal maintenance.
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