Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers 601 W Swann Ave Tampa, FL 33606 personal injury and car accident lawyer in Tampa

Expert Witness

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Expert Witness

Florida, as well as other states, recognizes two fundamentally different types of witnesses: lay witnesses and expert witnesses. A lay witness, such as an eyewitness, can only testify about events within their personal knowledge–typically, what they have seen and heard.

An expert witness, by contrast, can testify about matters outside their personal knowledge but within their field of expertise.

They might testify, for example, on whether a car accident that the expert did not see could have produced the injuries that an accident victim is complaining of.

Medical Malpractice and Product Liability Cases

Medical Malpractice and Product Liability Cases

Medical malpractice and product liability are two types of personal injury cases where attorneys most frequently call upon expert witnesses. Catastrophic injury cases also tend to generate expert witness testimony. 

It takes considerable expertise to estimate an injured victim’s future damages if they have suffered a permanent disability, and this is one (or many) aspects of a case an expert witness can help with.

Testifying Expert Witnesses vs. Consulting Experts

Most people know about the stereotypical expert, the one who testifies in court. There is another kind, however: the consulting expert. The reason why you might hire a consulting expert is, well, consultation. 

Although you must notify the opposing party of the identity of any testifying witnesses you use (and submit them to cross-examination at any deposition), the opposing party doesn’t even have to know about your consulting witness.

Suppose you’ve got a claim involving hydroponics, for example. There is a pretty good chance that your lawyer is rather hazy on the details of advanced hydroponics. That’s okay if you can hire a hydroponics expert to educate your lawyer and to help identify the issues. Indeed, your consulting expert might eventually morph into an expert witness.

Qualifications for Florida Expert Witnesses

There are too many different fields of expertise to supply a definitive list of qualifications beyond general guidelines. A court will typically weigh a variety of factors, including:

  • Academic qualifications. A PhD might be a necessity for a scientist, but perhaps not for an auto mechanic.
  • Relevant professional experience.
  • Publications in reputable professional or academic journals;
  • Awards from professional peers; and
  • General reputation among professional peers

There are other factors that a lawyer might want to see in an expert witness that a court might ignore. For example, you might want the witness to have experience testifying. You might want public name recognition to impress the jury.

Florida does impose mandatory requirements on certain types of expert witnesses. A medical expert witness, for example, needs a Florida license to practice medicine or, if licensed out of state, an Expert Witness Certificate.  

Expert Witness Reports

Expert witnesses often, but not always, generate written reports. If an expert witness generates a report, the opposing party often, but not always, has the right to see it. 

The opposing party can, for example, demand a copy of an expert witness report during the pretrial discovery process. The right to “discover” such a report is limited by the work product privilege and the attorney-client privilege.

The Expert Witness Industry

An “expert witness industry” has developed over time. Some people who develop expertise in a specific field quit their regular jobs and serve as full-time expert witnesses. Imagine a physician, for example, who testifies in court and serves as a consulting expert but who no longer practices medicine. Of course, expert witnesses are supposed to be objective even though one side is paying for their testimony. 

The opposing party’s lawyer will certainly make sure the court knows that the witness is being paid. The use of paid expert witnesses in court is routine, however. It is unlikely that the court will hold your use of an expert witness against you. 

Ironically, it is probably in your best interest to choose a professional expert witness rather than an ordinary expert. After all, a professional expert witness has experience standing up to cross-examination without blinking.

Different Types of Expert Witnesses

Attorneys in personal injury cases frequently use the following types of expert witnesses:

  • Accident reconstruction experts
  • Construction experts
  • Engineers
  • Environmental experts
  • Financial experts
  • Forensic specialists
  • Handwriting analysts
  • Human resources experts
  • Information technology (IT) experts
  • Intellectual property experts
  • Medical experts
  • Mental health professionals
  • Meteorologists
  • Product design experts
  • Vocational rehabilitation specialists

Ultimately, there are few limits on the types of expert witnesses that you can call on. You can even call an expert on astrology if, for example, the defendant’s interpretation of an astrological event could establish a relevant fact, such as motive.

Contact the Lakeland Personal Injury Law Firm of Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers for Help Today

For more information, please contact Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free consultation with a [RELATED PRACTICE AREA] lawyer in [CITY] today. We have five convenient locations in Florida, including Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, New Port Richey, and Lakeland.

We proudly serve Hillsborough County, Pinellas County, Pasco County, Polk County, and its surrounding areas:

Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers – Tampa Office
601 W Swann Ave, Tampa, FL 33606
(813) 223-6200

Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers – Clearwater Office
600 Bypass Dr Suite 224-D, Clearwater, FL 33764
(727) 493-4418

Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers – St. Petersburg Office
111 2nd Ave NE Suite 350, St. Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 314-5988

Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers – New Port Richey Office
5006 Trouble Creek Rd Unit #200, Port Richey, FL 34652
(727) 910-5060

Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers – Lakeland Office
1543 Lakeland Hills Blvd Suite 18, Lakeland, FL 33805
(863) 251-6196

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