Types of Expert Witnesses
There are many different kinds of expert witnesses. There are expert witnesses for every type of litigation. Experts may be called upon to assist with the preparation of a case, the identification of potential claims, the gathering of pertinent evidence, and the giving of testimony on behalf of a litigant. We'll go over a few examples of different experts and how they can be used in medicolegal cases.
Experts in Medicine
Medical experts are the most common type of expert witness. Medical experts can be consulted for advice on potential claims–for instance, to determine whether or not malpractice may have been committed, the extent of the plaintiff's injuries, where pertinent evidence may be located–or to testify in favor of either side of the litigation on the issues of duty, breach, causation, or damages. Expert witnesses in the medical field are often called upon to provide opinions on the competence or negligence of other doctors, to attest to the state of health of the plaintiff, to prove or disprove the causal relationship between the plaintiff's injury and the alleged offending agent (malpractice, toxic exposure, etc.), and/or to testify as to the full scope, likely cost, and potential consequences of the plaintiff's injuries.
Vocational expert witnesses are typically utilized in cases involving disability. The Social Security Administration (SSA) often denies someone benefits because they think the person can still work, even though they are disabled. During the appeals process, the SSA may consult with a vocational expert to determine whether the applicant is able to work despite their illness or injury. The vocational expert will take into account the applicant's physical and/or mental impairments, the applicant's transferable skills from previous jobs, and the current state of the labor market in the applicant's field and related fields to determine whether or not the applicant is employable.
Experts in Finance, Accounting, & Securities
Financial experts can be used in many different types of cases. In a divorce proceeding, for instance, they can be used to assess a party's financial standing, locate hidden assets in foreign accounts, and identify income sources. They may provide guidance or an opinion to a party or the court regarding the potential tax implications of a transaction, the most effective way to divide retirement accounts, or the process of conducting a valuation of a business or other complex asset.
Accounting experts can be used to follow paper trails and link assets from one source to another, or to find or disprove problems with financial statements or accounting that are said to exist. Experts in finance can also be called upon in personal injury cases and other contexts to determine the monetary value of intangible losses, such as future lost income.
Securities experts can assist in identifying trading irregularities and determining whether an action was fraudulent. They can render an opinion as to whether banks or other fiduciaries complied with their fiduciary duties in a transaction or business practice.
Experts in Science & Technology
In civil or criminal cases, forensic experts can provide opinions regarding physical evidence, such as the blood alcohol content of a drunk driver, the DNA of a homicide suspect, or whether a fire was the result of accidental or intentional conduct. Although forensic experts are frequently used in criminal cases, their expertise is also useful in a variety of civil matters.