Do I Need Expert Witnesses in a SC Personal Injury Case?

by | Oct 1, 2018 | Personal Injury |

Do you really need expert witnesses in a SC personal injury case?

Although you may want to “keep things simple” or save money by not retaining expert witnesses, not having expert witnesses in a SC personal injury case can result in your case being dismissed, a lower settlement or verdict than you should have received, or even a defense verdict at trial.

Your SC personal injury lawyer will know when you must have an expert witness and when it is not necessary. We will not retain unnecessary experts, but, when it is necessary, we cannot proceed with a case until we have the right experts on board.

At Coastal Law, our Myrtle Beach personal injury lawyers will help you to find and retain the right expert witnesses to help analyze and present your case to maximize your chance of recovery and to maximize the amount of your recovery

Why You May Need Expert Witnesses in a SC Personal Injury Case

As the plaintiff, you have the burden of proof in any SC personal injury case. This means that you must prove:

If you don’t prove liability, your case will get dismissed or result in a defense verdict.

If you do prove liability for the accident but don’t prove that the accident caused your injuries, you are not entitled to damages.

If you do prove liability and causation but you do not prove the extent of your injuries and what it cost you, you may get substantially less money than you are entitled to.

When You Don’t Need Expert Witnesses in a SC Personal Injury Case

Obviously, you don’t need an expert witness for every issue in every case – there are often situations where even the most important questions, like liability, do not require expert testimony.

Examples include:

  • You’re in a car wreck where the other driver T-boned your car at an intersection. There are multiple witnesses, the officer’s report details how the accident happened, and the other driver is not disputing liability;
  • Following a DUI accident, the drunk driver is arrested, provides a breath sample that is “over the limit,” and is convicted of felony DUI;
  • Any personal injury case where the defense is not disputing liability.

Even when liability is not an issue, however, you may still need expert testimony to establish the extent of your injuries, the amount of money you are entitled to, or any other issue that is in question or that an “ordinary juror” may not understand.

Do You Need More than One Expert Witness?

You may not need any expert witnesses, or you may require multiple experts – it depends on the facts of your case and what you need to prove at trial.

If the defense is disputing liability in a car accident case, you may need an accident reconstructionist to explain how the accident happened and why it was the other driver’s fault. If the same accident caused a permanent disability, you may also need expert testimony to establish what your injuries are, why they were caused by the crash, and how much your future care will cost over your lifetime…

Who Pays for the Expert Witnesses?

In most cases, you must pay for any experts that are needed in your case and the law does not allow us to force the defense to reimburse you.

Whether you pay those costs up front depends on the type of case and the likelihood of recovery – but, in many cases, your attorney will cover the costs of litigation including expert witness fees and then recover those expenses after your settlement or verdict.

Situations Where You Need Expert Witnesses in a SC Personal Injury Case

You can, and should, use expert witnesses to prove any issue in your case that is complex or requires specialized knowledge – some of the more common situations include:

  • Proving liability: how a car wreck happened, why a manufacturer’s product had an unsafe design defect, whether a police officer used excessive force on a suspect, or how a contractor was negligent in installing your roof.
  • Proving causation: even when it is clear that the defendant caused the accident, were your injuries a direct result of the accident? When insurance defense attorneys claim that something else caused your injuries or that your injuries were pre-existing, you will need to prove causation.
  • Proving damages: even when liability is admitted, you will have to prove the amount of your damages. Insurance defense attorneys may argue that you received treatment that was unnecessary or that you are exaggerating emotional trauma that you suffered.
  • Proving future damages: if you are permanently disabled after an accident, require long-term care, or medical equipment for the rest of your life, insurance defense attorneys will fight tooth and nail to not give you full and fair compensation. When you have future medical costs, you may need one or more experts to explain why the price tag is so high…

Types of Expert Witnesses in a SC Personal Injury Case

So, who are these expert witnesses who will help you to prove your case?

Some of the more common types of experts that we use in SC personal injury cases include:

Accident Reconstructionists

In every felony DUI case, the SC Highway Patrol’s MAIT team will investigate the crash site and produce a report that is used to prosecute the drunk driver and to establish liability in your case.

In some cases, we will need to retain our own accident reconstruction expert, often a former MAIT team officer, to determine how an accident happened, the speed the vehicles were traveling, whether a turn signal was used, whether the brakes were applied, the story that the skid marks tell, and other details from the crash.

Medical Experts

Medical experts testify about a broad range of issues in SC personal injury cases – doctors or nurses in different areas of expertise are used in different cases to explain things like:

  • What type of injuries you suffered;
  • Whether you have fully recovered from the injuries;
  • What treatment you have received and whether it was necessary; and
  • How the injuries will affect you in the future.

In a medical malpractice case, an expert doctor or nurse is required to provide an opinion about:

  • What the standard of care is for a certain type of doctor or nurse; and
  • How the defendants deviated from that standard of care in your case.

Mental Health Experts

Pain and suffering and emotional trauma are an important element of damages in many personal injury cases – in some cases, they are the primary source of damages.

Mental health experts can help you to establish liability and damages with testimony about:

Economic Experts

Once liability has been established, the most important role of experts in your case is to explain to the jury how much the defendant needs to pay and why that amount is justified.

Expert economists or life care planners can testify to the jury:

  • How your injuries have affected your ability to work and earn money;
  • The amount of future wages, or lost earning potential, that you will lose because of the injuries; and
  • The cost of future medical care and medical equipment over the course of your lifetime or the estimated length of time that you will be disabled.

SC Personal Injury Lawyers in Myrtle Beach

Your Myrtle Beach personal injury attorney at Coastal Law will investigate your case, help you to decide when you need expert witnesses, and help you to find and retain the right experts to prove your claims.

Call now at (843) 488-5000 or contact us through our website to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer today.

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1104 North Oak Street
Myrtle Beach, SC 29577

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Conway, SC 29526

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Charleston, SC 29401

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1201 Main Street, Suite 1913
Columbia, SC 29201

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