Expert witnesses play an important role in the American justice system. They’re used in both civil and criminal trials, and in most cases, the primary lawyer on the case makes the call when they are needed. Sometimes, clients identify the need early by pointing out the complexity of the evidence, especially when it requires professional training to parse. No matter who first suggests the option, an expert witness is an investment the client needs to authorize.
The reason experts are so crucial to the system is simple. American courts typically only let people testify to experienced events. That means what they see or hear, as well as what they do and what is done to them. Experts are qualified to speak beyond their immediate experience in a limited capacity, to analyze complex evidence, and provide the findings of that analysis to the court. They put complicated topics into lay terms, providing an understanding of both the processes used to draw conclusions and the reasons for the conclusions.
Roles for Engineering Experts
An engineer expert witness is typically called when the case involves mechanical or structural infrastructure failure. Depending on the kind of engineer and the case at hand, experts could be called to analyze the factors at play in a part failure that causes a vehicle to crash or even the factors that led a bridge to collapse. This analysis helps determine liability by pinpointing whether the failure was due to poor work and materials or to acts of nature, operator failure, or a variety of other causes.
It’s very common for experts working on different sides of a case to draw different conclusions from the evidence. That’s the nature of working with experts, which is why your lawyer needs to choose carefully when selecting someone to work with. A good expert does more than just provide testimony. A good expert also provides help understanding the evidence while you plan your case, giving your lawyer additional resources to work with at every phase of the process.