Expert witnesses can make or break a legal case. Their testimony is professional and as specialists in their field, they often can significantly influence a jury’s decision in a case. For this reason, it is so important to choose an appropriate expert witness. The following are some important guidelines a lawyer typically adheres to when choosing an expert witness for a personal injury case:
- Make sure they have impeccable credentials. The experts that a personal injury attorney chooses should not only have considerable expertise in their field, but also a history of experience in the particular sub-field of your case. They should have degrees from reputable schools and have memberships in relevant professional or academic organizations. It is even better if they have publications in trusted journals related to what they will testify about.
- Ensure that there is no conflict of interest. Opposing counsel will be looking for any reason to discredit expert witnesses, so it is important to make sure they have no obvious biases related to the case (for example, relation to the client or a large monetary investment in the case). They must have objectivity, credibility and integrity.
- Look for any potential skeletons in the witness’ closet. If there are any potential scandals in the witness’ past, they could be brought up at trial and damage testimony. It is important to conduct a thorough background check to see if there may be litigation against the witness or any disciplinary actions that would tarnish the witness’ reputation. It is also important to make sure the witness has not made public statements that will be at odds with the trial testimony.
- Interview potential expert witnesses face-to-face to learn about their presence on the stand. An expert witness does not only need to be qualified; they must also be likeable and personable. If the witness is not a good public speaker, they may lose the jury’s attention or even be disliked. It is important to find out what kind of presence the witness will have on the stand. If they have testified in court previously, it can be helpful to talk to lawyers who have worked with the witness in the past or even watch a recording.
- Test that the witness can think on his or her feet. Witnesses may be asked unexpected questions by opposing counsel and it is important that they can respond with composure and adapt to new situations calmly.
- Assure that the witness believes in the case and is willing to defend his or her position. An expert witness needs to convey authority and certainty without being defensive. For this reason, it is imperative that the expert witness chosen really believes what they attest and can back it up with evidence.
Selecting an appropriate expert witness can go a long way in supporting a medical malpractice, premises liability, or auto accident case. Often an attorney has years of experience choosing appropriate witnesses, so if you have not already gotten an opinion on your case from a qualified attorney, you should consider doing so. By working one-on-one with an experienced lawyer, you are much more likely to build a convincing case. If you have a personal injury case, get our help to assure the best possible outcome for your case. Call us at Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. today for your free consultation at (312) 236-2900.