Experts And Forensic Evidence
Experts In Forensic Evidence
A forensic science expert is a witness who, by virtue of education, profession, publication or experience, is believed to have special knowledge of his or her subject beyond that of the average person, adequate that others may officially and legally rely upon the expert’s opinion. Experts help settle legal debates and arguments; they testify on the record or in court about their findings. Warner Law Offices routinely retains experts to evaluate during pre-litigation and litigation to maximize profitability and recovery. During pre-litigation, experts produce reports that aid the insurance companies and facilitate resolutions. During litigation, experts testify at trial to substantiate damages.
Experts are a valuable tool in the legal system during pre-litigation and litigation. Typically, experts are relied on by both sides to a dispute for opinions on issues such as severity of injury, cause of failure in a machine, future medical care, diminished earning capacity and safety regulations. Experts are needed to prove damages and to quantify those damages. When choosing a law firm to represent you, it is important to choose a firm with the financial capability to retain experts and pay litigation costs needed to take on the large insurance companies. Warner Law Offices has the resources to fully litigate your case for maximum recovery.
Liability experts have the expertise to determine the cause of accidents, understand design concepts, recognize human factors that may have played a role in accident causation and accident avoidance. These experts assign responsibility using their education, experience, knowledge and skills. Liability experts address issues concerning slip, trip or fall cases; workplace injuries; amusement parks; bars or restaurants; parks and playgrounds; lighting and visibility; negligent supervision; schools; burglar alarm systems; and many more.
These experts have skills in the areas of safety, quality control and design. Law firms routinely hire accident reconstruction experts, OSHA experts, MSHA experts and safety experts to determine liability when accidents occur. Also commonly hired are insurance industry consultants. Insurance consultants determine if one acted appropriately, determine coverage issues and do bad faith analysis. Liability and causation experts help advance the plaintiff’s factual theory of the case and fend off the anticipated defense counterattacks.
When a lawyer gets a new case, the scenario is something like the following. It is 1:30 on a Tuesday afternoon and the phone rings. The caller wants to retain the attorney for a workplace injury accident. She explains that her husband has been seriously injured due to working at elevated heights without fall restraints. She further explains that her husband’s employer was aware of the unsafe work conditions and did nothing. Once the attorney agrees to take the case, his first thoughts are to focus on preserving any physical evidence from the workplace and immediately hiring a safety and an OSHA expert. The safety and OSHA experts will help assess the most probable cause and rule out alternative causes. These experts are especially important because they have the aptitude to pinpoint liability.
Experts on damages determine the financial value of losses and injuries using sophisticated analysis and computer modeling. Damages refer to the money paid or awarded to a plaintiff following a successful claim in a civil action. Damages are generally awarded to place the plaintiff in the position he or she would have been had the injury not taken place. These experts evaluate compensatory and punitive damages, lost wages, lost profits, damage or destruction of real estate, personal property, machinery and industrial equipment, and loss of market share. There are two types of damages:
- General damages compensate the plaintiff for the non-monetary aspects of the specific harm suffered. General damages are usually referred to as pain, suffering and loss of amenity. Examples of these damages are physical or emotional pain and suffering, loss of companionship, loss of consortium, disfigurement, loss of reputation and loss of enjoyment of life.
- Special damages compensate the plaintiff for the quantifiable monetary losses suffered by the plaintiff. Examples of special damages are extra costs, repair or replacement of damaged property, lost earnings, loss of irreplaceable items. Special damages can include direct losses such as amounts the plaintiff had to spend to mitigate problems and consequential or economic losses resulting from lost profits in a business.
Damages experts give opinion evidence on the value of loss and assign numbers to the loss. A damage expert would be very helpful in a car accident case. For example, the plaintiff has been paralyzed and will not be able to return to work. The plaintiff’s attorney will hire a vocational expert to determine the value of the loss of earnings. The attorney may also retain other experts such as a pain management expert and a psychologist. The pain management expert will explain the physical limitations the plaintiff suffers and will continue to suffer. A psychologist will explain to the jury the pain and suffering from a psychological point of view, which will help the jurors understand exactly what the plaintiff has experienced.
Another example of a damages expert is a medical expert who provides consultation and testimony for a very wide range of issues, including medical disorders, treatment, doctor, nurse, and facility standards of care and conduct, forensic medicine, misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis and pathology. More specific experts in this category include orthopedics, neurologists, pain medicine, rehabilitation, chiropractors and psychologists.