Expert testimony plays a vital role in car accident cases. It helps to establish the facts of the case, such as how the accident occurred and what type of injuries were sustained. It also verifies the monetary value of the injured party’s damages, such as future medical expenses and other financial losses.
Expert witnesses are considered qualified to provide their opinion in certain cases based on their education, work experience, or specialized knowledge in particular areas, such as forensics or highway engineering. They may provide their opinion in the form of a written report, deposition, or a testimony at trial. The conclusions that expert witnesses draw can be very persuasive for the jury when it comes to awarding damages.
What are the Different Types of Expert Witnesses in Car Accident Cases?
A qualified lawyer can determine which type of expert testimony will be necessary for a particular case. There are several types of expert witnesses who may provide helpful information for a car accident victim at trial, including:
This type of expert reconstructs the accident to determine how it happened. Using pictures of the accident scene and vehicles, witness statements, deposition transcripts, and other evidence, an accident reconstructionist will provide their expert opinion on how the car accident occurred. They may also use computer programs and other technology to create a simulation of the accident at trial. An accident reconstructionist often helps a car accident victim establish what caused the crash and who is to blame for the accident.
Automotive Engineering Expert
In cases involving faulty vehicle design or manufacture, an automotive engineering expert may provide their opinion regarding how certain safety features could have prevented or mitigated injuries. They may also examine how the car was designed or manufactured to determine if certain parts, such as the seat belt, airbags, electrical system, brakes, or tires, failed to function at their proper levels. This type of testimony is useful in products liability cases.
Cellphone Records Expert
One of the main causes of distracted driving accidents was cellphone use, including texting, talking on the phone, taking pictures and videos, and adjusting apps. Experts in the field of cellular forensics recover data from cellphones and use cell tower locations to provide testimony, which is typically the only way to prove that the defendant was on their phone at the time of the accident.
Car accident victims often miss time from work due to injuries that require prolonged medical treatment. Economists establish the monetary value of a car accident victim’s losses. For example, they may calculate present and future medical expenses, as well as other types of damages that are not as easily quantifiable, such as pain and suffering. If a car accident victim is unable to return to the job they had before the accident, or if they are unable to return to work at all, an economist may help calculate their lost earning capacity.
Highway Safety Expert
Highway safety experts provide insight into the contributing factors of the crash, such as the weather, road conditions, and time of day that it occurred. For example, they may provide reports regarding highway construction, design, or engineering. They may also give testimony on highway maintenance, road conditions, traffic signals, signs and systems, transportation regulations, and other topics. This type of testimony may be particularly useful in cases where road design or conditions contributed to the accident.
There are many types of medical experts; a car accident victim may need more than one type, depending on the nature of their injuries. In personal injury cases, a medical expert’s independent medical examination may be used by the defendant or their insurance company to show that the victim’s injuries were either not serious or were not caused by the accident.
A medical expert may use medical records, reports, and results of tests performed by other doctors, as well as the outcome of their own personal examinations to form opinions. In car accident cases, medical experts may testify to the severity of the injuries, how the injuries occurred, how much it will cost to treat the injuries, and how the injuries will impact the victim’s life.
Mental Health Expert
A mental health expert, such as a psychologist, is often useful when a car accident victim’s mental health has been impacted by their injuries. This type of expert may provide expert testimony regarding the victim’s mental state, as well as how their injuries impacted their quality of life. Testimony from a mental health expert often supports a victim’s claim for emotional distress, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.
Vocational Rehabilitation Expert
Car accident victims who are able to return to work despite their injuries may require vocational rehabilitation experts. This type of expert may provide reports or testify in such cases regarding the victim’s earnings assessment and capacity, transferability of skills, workplace accommodation needs, vocational learning capacity, and other matters. This testimony may help victims obtain the monetary support they need to retrain themselves and develop the skills they need to re-enter the workforce.
What Types of Damages are Available in Car Accident Cases?
In Pennsylvania, the type of car insurance that a driver has determines what type of damages they will be able to recover in a car accident case. Pennsylvania is a choice no-fault car insurance state, meaning that drivers who opt for no-fault insurance will only be able to obtain economic damages from their own insurance company. They will not be able to sue at-fault drivers for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. This type of insurance is less expensive but limits a plaintiff’s recovery to medical expense compensation and lost income up to their policy limits.
Those who opt out of the no-fault system by purchasing tort coverage have more options. With this type of insurance, a victim injured in a car accident may sue the at-fault driver to collect additional damages, such as physical pain, emotional distress, and loss of affection or companionship.
However, the amount of damages a personal injury plaintiff may be able to recover also depends on their percentage of fault. Pennsylvania is a comparative negligence state, meaning that a car accident victim must be no more than 50 percent at-fault for their accident to recover. Therefore, those who are partially to blame for the accident may recover an award reduced in proportion to their percentage of fault. Those who are more than 50 percent responsible may not collect any damages at all.
Additionally, a car accident victim must file their claim within two years of the date of their accident to comply with the Pennsylvania statute of limitations for personal injury cases. Once this time frame has passed, the claim will likely be dismissed; therefore, it is important to seek legal counsel as soon as possible following a car accident.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Secure Expert Testimony to Build Car Accident Cases
If you were injured in a car accident, contact one of our Philadelphia car accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC. Our experienced legal team can secure the expert testimony you need to build and strengthen your case. Call us at 215-569-8488 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Abington, and Media, Pennsylvania; Wilmington, Delaware; and Haddonfield, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout the surrounding areas.