Expert Witnesses in Truck Accident Cases: FAQ
When you have a personal injury case involving a commercial truck, the stakes are high. Truck accident cases depend on highly specialized information including industry regulations, truck mechanics, and the long-term medical and economic impacts of your crash. To build a winning case, you will need the testimony of reliable witnesses, so it is essential that you have a lawyer who can bring in the right witnesses.
Who May Testify in Court As a Witness?
Not everyone has the right to come to court and testify in a truck accident case. In order to take the stand and answer questions before a jury during a live court proceeding, a person must qualify to give testimony as a fact witness or an expert witness.
As their name suggests, fact witnesses may testify about events that they observed firsthand. They may not testify about their own opinions or anything that they did not personally perceive using their own five senses. Examples of common fact witnesses in truck accident cases include passengers who were inside the vehicle at the time of the crash, bystanders and onlookers who saw the accident happen, and other motorists who were present at the scene of the crash.
Expert witnesses, in contrast, possess special knowledge, skills, and expertise that allow them to evaluate information about a truck collision and provide their professional opinions to a jury. An expert witness can testify in court even though they did not personally see the accident transpire.
Why Are Expert Witnesses Important in Truck Accident Cases?
Truck crash litigation often involves complex mechanical, physical, medical, and economical concepts as well as specialized information in the fields of trucking regulation and trucking industry standards. Who should win and who should lose a truck accident cause often depends on these highly complicated scientific, technological, and legal ideas, but most jurors deciding the case will have little, if any, knowledge about any of these areas.
Expert witnesses help fill in the holes in jurors’ understanding. Through a series of answers to questions asked by the plaintiff and defendant’s attorneys, experts teach jurors the specialized information that is needed in order to determine key issues like how and why an accident occurred, which party is at fault, the extent of a victim’s injuries, and how much a plaintiff should be awarded. Without an expert witness, the jury may not understand why you are entitled to be compensated for your injuries and losses and therefore may not rule in your favor.
At Munley Law, our truck accident lawyers have decades of experience working with the top experts in various industries in order to build winning cases for our clients.
What Kinds of Experts Usually Testify in Truck Accident Cases?
An experienced truck accident lawyer will understand that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to truck collision claim experts. The type of expert that will be helpful to your case will depend on a multitude of individual factors, such as the cause of the accident, where and when the collision occurred, the type of truck or tractor-trailer involved, the state and federal safety regulations that apply, and the nature and extent of your injuries. However, specialists in the following fields often testify as expert witnesses in truck accident cases:
- Accident Reconstruction Experts
- Medical Professionals
- Psychiatrists and Psychologists
- Commercial Truck Mechanics
- Highway Safety Regulators
- Rehabilitation Specialists
- Forensic Toxicologists
- Transportation Investigators
- Roadway Design Experts
Choosing the right types of specialists to testify as expert witnesses in your case is only a small part of the battle. Your lawyer must also understand how to use those experts as well. To do so, you need an experienced legal team who knows what information about the semi-truck accident to give the expert, what reports and evaluations the expert should compose, how to coach and prepare the expert to testify coherently in court, whether the expert should use graphics or other materials to explain complicated concepts, and how to effectively question the expert in order to elicit the information that will be most helpful to the jury and to your case.
What Makes a Good Expert Witness?
A good truck accident attorney will understand not only what kind of expert witness will help you case, but how to pick and train an expert witness to communicate effectively to a jury. The best expert witnesses do the following:
- They communicate clearly. Experts are brought in to explain nuanced concepts that lay juror members are unlikely to know or understand without help. An expert witness who overuses specialized jargon, skips necessary comprehension steps, mumbles, speaks too quickly, or otherwise struggles to clearly communicate information or an expert opinion is unlikely to inform or persuade a jury.
- They speak candidly. Jurors are weary of any witness who they believe may be lying or exaggerating. Jurors are more likely to credit and accept the testimony of an expert witness who is honest about both the good and bad facts for your case.
- They exude confidence, but not arrogance. An expert witness who confidently delivers explanations and opinions appears well-informed and well-versed. However, this can be a fine line to walk–jurors often are suspicious of experts who they perceive to be arrogant.
Can the Defendant in a Truck Accident Case Bring Expert Witnesses Too?
Yes. As long as the industry specialists qualify under your jurisdiction’s test for expert witnesses, every party to a tractor-trailer accident case can call expert witnesses to testify. The best truck accident lawyers will have the experience to anticipate what kinds of witnesses the other side may bring, and will build your case accordingly.
Lawyers on both sides often use experts at trial as part of their offensive and defensive approaches to winning the case. For example, if your lawyer anticipates that the trucking company will call an expert to dispute your theory that the truck driver’s negligence caused the accident. Your lawyer can call a better expert from the same field who will undermine the testimony given by the truck company’s expert witness.
Are Expert Witnesses Expensive?
Hiring expert witnesses for a truck accident case can be expensive. At Munley Law, we front all of the costs associated with bringing your case to trial so that you can have access to the very best resources and you won’t have to pay any costs out of pocket. We only get reimbursed for our expenses if we win for you.
Do You Know Someone Who Was Injured in a Truck Accident?
Our Truck Accident Team has spent decades fighting for victims of tractor-trailer collisions and their families. Don’t take on the trucking and insurance companies alone. Schedule your free consultation to learn more about our proven results and see how Munley Law can help you recovery for your losses, pain, and suffering today.