Building Powerful Cases for Our Clients
In any legal case, evidence is critical. The more powerful the evidence, the better the chances of a favorable outcome. In personal injury cases, forensic evidence is often used to prove the validity of the plaintiff’s claim, as well as the nature and severity of his or her injuries. Often, this requires the use of forensic scientists, liability experts, and other specialists who, with the help of an experienced and skilled attorney, can put together persuasive evidence to present to the insurance company, judge, or jury.
At Warner Law Offices, PLLC, we understand the importance of collecting all applicable evidence in order to build the most powerful and effective claims possible. To that end, our West Virginia personal injury attorneys often enlist the help of numerous professionals to provide expert testimony on behalf of our clients. We believe that thorough and exhaustive pretrial preparation is an essential element of a successful claim, which is why we rely on experts, forensic evidence, and other invaluable resources when building our clients’ cases.
What Is a Forensic Science Expert?
A forensic science expert is a witness who, by virtue of education, profession, publication, or experience, has special knowledge of his or her subject that goes beyond that of the average person. In other words, a forensic evidence is a specialist who has adequate information regarding a specific subject that others may officially and legally rely upon their opinion.
Experts help settle legal debates and arguments; they testify on the record or in court about their findings. At Warner Law Offices, PLLC, we routinely retain such experts to evaluate various aspects of our clients claims, both during pre-litigation and litigation, to help maximize the profitability of the case and the client’s total recovery. During pre-litigation, experts produce reports that aid the insurance companies and facilitate resolutions. During litigation, experts testify at trial to help prove and substantiate damages.
Experts are a valuable tool in the legal system. In a typical personal injury case, legal representation for both the plaintiff (the person bringing the claim) and the defendant (the person against whom the claim is brought) will rely on experts to provide opinions and help resolve disagreements. These disputes may include anything from the severity of the plaintiff’s injury to the cause of the injury to the future medical care needed, the degree of diminished earning capacity, and more. In most cases, 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, PLLC has the resources to fully litigate your case and fight for the maximum compensation you are owed.
What Are Liability Experts?
Liability experts have the expertise to determine the cause of accidents, understand design concepts, and 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. In other words, liability experts help prove that another person or party was at fault or otherwise liable for the accident or event that caused your injuries or the death of your loved one. This is a critical element in nearly all personal injury and wrongful death cases.
Generally speaking, liability experts have specialized skills in the areas of safety, quality control, and product design. Law firms routinely hire accident reconstruction experts, OSHA experts, MSHA experts, and safety experts to determine liability when accidents occur. They also commonly work with insurance industry consultants. Insurance consultants determine if a certain party acted appropriately, determine coverage issues, and conduct insurance bad faith analyses. 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.
Damages Experts and Their Role
Experts on damages determine the financial value of losses and injuries using sophisticated analysis and computer modeling. In legal terms, “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.
Damages experts evaluate both compensatory and punitive damages, such as medical expenses, lost wages, lost profits, pain and suffering, damage or destruction of real estate, damage to personal property, damaged machinery and industrial equipment, and loss of market share.
There are two types of damages:
- General 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: Special damages compensate the plaintiff for the quantifiable monetary losses he or she suffered. Examples of special damages are extra costs, repair or replacement of damaged property, lost earnings, and 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-based evidence on the value of loss and assign numbers to the loss. For example, imagine an individual is paralyzed in a car accident 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 in the future. 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.