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How Expert Witnesses Help Car Accident Cases

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Leveraging Expert Witness Testimony to Increase the Personal Injury Compensation from Your Car Accident Case

Car Accident Example: Northbound I-55 Nine Vehicle Crash

Just recently, a nine car accident occurred on I-55 in the Chicagoland area resulting in numerous injuries. Certainly, there will be numerous injury claims and many potentially responsible parties.  The circumstances and cause(s) of the accident are still being investigated.  Similarly, individuals injured in the accident are still determining the nature and extent of their injuries.

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Hire a Car Accident Attorney Who May Hire an Expert

It is critical that injured parties obtain an attorney now to immediately investigate all aspects of collision.  In some instances, an attorney may determine that retaining an expert can ensure a successful outcome.  Expert witnesses can be used effectively to argue your case and help drive up the value and develop liability against parties.

Expert Witness Infographic

How can an expert witness help maximize the recovery in your auto accident case? Get answers from top Chicago auto accident law firm, The Kryder Law Group.

Who is an Expert Witness?

An expert is a controlled witness that an injured party can retain.  During the course of a personal injury case, the Plaintiff, the injured party, and the defense have an opportunity to obtain an expert.  Unlike a responding officer or a physician that provides you medical treatment, an expert is a witness your car accident attorney hires to review the case and offer a particular opinion based on his or her expertise.

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Expert Witness Definition and Laws in Illinois

Specifically, Illinois Supreme Court Rule 213(f)(3) states:

A “controlled expert witness” is a person giving expert testimony who is the party, the party’s current employee or the party’s retained expert.  For each controlled expert witness, the party must identify:  (i) the subject matter on which the witness will testify; (ii) the conclusions and opinions of the witness and the bases therefor; (iii) the qualifications of the witness; and (iv) any reports prepared by the witness about the case.

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What is the Purpose of an Expert Witness? Why Injury Lawyers Hire Experts?

There are numerous factors to evaluate when considering retaining an expert. Your Illinois personal injury attorney will determine if an expert is appropriate for your case.  On one hand, an expert is an expensive option and will dramatically increase expenses on your case.  However, when appropriate the investment can dramatically improve the outcome of the case.  A case should involve significant damages such as catastrophic injuries or fatalities.  Obviously, it would not be prudent to incur expert expenses in a modest value case.  An attorney should also consider the extent of the insurance coverage available.  Turing to the recent multi-vehicle highway accident, if there is only one at fault vehicle with state minimum insurance coverage, an expert may not be justified due to the limited potential outcome.

How Can an Expert Witness Add Value to My Case?

There are numerous ways an expert can add value by increasing the outcome of a case.  An expert may be able to develop a liability case out of a difficult set of facts.  For example, in the recent multi-vehicle accident, an expert may be able to determine multiple vehicles played a role in causing the accident.  Now, the injured party will potentially be able to recover from numerous insurance companies. Often an expert is obtained where it is difficult to determine the responsible party. Take for example the case of a carbon monoxide exposure.  Tragically, carbon monoxide fatalities occur every winter due to building owners failure to properly maintain heating systems or detectors.   An expert quickly on the scene can inspect and identify the specific source of the gas and maintenance failures.  Experts may also detail the extent of a Plaintiff’s damages such as future medical expenses or wage loss.

What Are The Types of Expert Witnesses an Accident Attorney Can Hire?

In most car accident and personal injury cases there are three types of expert witnesses that are called to testify:

  1. Reconstructionist
  2. Economist
  3. Life care planner

Your attorney will carefully review your case and consider what type of witness(es) will best help in your circumstance. Your attorney will probably focus on multiple factors and consider different experts:

Reconstructionist – Determines Liability by Investigating the Crash

One area of focus for an expert is liability.  An attorney should consider whether an expert needs to be retained to determine the cause(s) of an accident. Following a multi-vehicle catastrophic accident, it is critical to immediately begin a detailed investigation into all causes of the accident.  An accident reconstructionist is a critical expert trained to reconstruct the accident.  Often this expert has a science, engineering or law enforcement background.  A reconstructionist may inspect the vehicles to secure vital information from the vehicle’s data recorder.  This information can be used to calculate speed and the force of impact, both critical points in a significant accident.  The expert will determine the movement of each vehicle leading up to the collisions.  An expert will examine if weather conditions or vehicle maintenance played a role in the accident.  Further, the expert will detail each motor vehicle code violation.

Economist – Determines Financial Loss and Other Damages

Another expert to consider is an economist to detail the effects of a loss of employment.  Unfortunately, permanent injuries or fatalities mean a loss of an occupation.  An economist is an appropriate expert that can detail all aspects of the financial loss.  An economist will calculate lost wages; future lost wages; promotions; raises; and lost benefits.  An economist will also examine future lost earning capacity.  Essentially, an expert can calculate salary increases during a work life expectancy.  For example, if a teenager in college who delivers pizza is killed in an accident, his future lost earnings would include the salary of a college graduate, not simply the delivery job wages.  Further, an expert will calculate the teenager’s work life expectancy, meaning how many years the teenager would have worked.  Often an economist adds substantial value to the loss of income damages.

Life Care Planner – Determines Future Medical Expenses

A third typical expert is a life care planner.  This expert will testify to all future medical expenses. The expert must be able to testify with reasonable certainty that the Plaintiff will incur the expenses. Oftentimes this expert can detail the costs of future home medical or nursing care; future surgeries; prescriptions; physical therapy; or the cost of a family member to provide you care.  A home may also require expensive modifications such as wheelchair ramps; lifts; railings; or widening of hallways.  A life care planner can be essential to thoroughly detail all future medical expenses.

What Should I Do If I Get Injured in An Auto Accident?

If you are involved in an accident, an attorney should be retained immediately.  An injured party can pursue a civil action against an at fault driver for damages including your medical bills, wage loss, disfigurement, disability, loss of normal life as well as pain and suffering.  An attorney can guide an injured client through the numerous steps and considerations to ensure a successful outcome.

Contact An Illinois Auto Accident Attorney Today!

Call the personal injury attorneys at The Kryder Law Group to discuss your case, legal rights and options.  The Kryder Law Group has experienced personal injury lawyers with the resources to handle your case.  The attorneys at The Kryder Law Group have the experience and knowledge to successfully litigate your case and maximize your recovery.  If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident, please contact the lawyers at The Kryder Law Group to discuss your legal rights at (312) 223-1700 or kryderlaw@gmail.com. You can also visit our website for a free case evaluation and consultation.

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