July 12, 2012
For every machine that breaks or heart that stops beating, there is someone who possesses the experience and training to answer why.
In fact, for virtually any dispute brought to trial there exists someone who possesses that extra knowledge necessary to deliver a stronger—and hopefully winning—argument.
In fact, certain situations demand expert testimony. At other times, expert testimony is necessary to offset an opposing legal team’s arguments.
If, for example, you are the plaintiff in a case about corporate negligence and the defense hires a competent expert, showing up to trial without an expert of your own could be equivalent to bringing a knife to a gunfight.
Here are three typical scenarios that demand the use of an expert witness:
1. When an Expert Witness is Required by Law
In most jurisdictions, expert witnesses are required by law. These often include cases involving negligence or malpractice. In these cases, it often requires an expert to help the court and jury comprehend how a professional’s duty of care was breached.
In such cases, the expert can explain the standard of care and detail how the professional failed to adhere to these standards.
Such cases will often require the defense to hire their own malpractice expert witness to make a case that the professional did, in fact, adhere to standards of care.
2. When a Case’s Complexity Requires an Expert
Some cases are so complex that the technological issues involved would not easily be understood by a layman.
For example, if a case involved a mechanical heart valve that malfunctioned, a jury would not be likely be able to come to an educated decision without some form of expert education.
A medical expert witness would therefore be tasked to explain to a jury how the heart valve works and why, on a technical level, it malfunctioned.
3. When an Attorney and Client Require an Expert to Win a Case
Imagine a scenario in which there is a case involving patent infringement in which one corporation has accused another corporation of copying the design of a cellular phone. They’ve hired a team of expert witnesses who are prepared to make a case for infringement.
The defense might, at this point, want to retain its own intellectual property and technology expert witnesses to make an argument against the occurrence of infringement.
Without hiring experts, the defense might not stand a chance and the company could lose out on a lot of revenue.