The Role of Expert Witnesses in Personal Injury Claims in South Carolina

Free Evaluation
100% Secure & Confidential
5.0 Google Rated

Experts can play a valuable role in your personal injury case at various points in the process. These witnesses can help your lawyer prepare in the background or could testify at trial. If there is any complexity to your personal injury case, chances are your lawyer will work with one or more expert witnesses. In some matters, an expert witness can make or break your case. Contact the experienced Charleston personal injury lawyers at The Hartman Law Firm, LLC today to learn more about the personal injury litigation process.

When Your Personal Injury Lawyer May Use an Expert Witness

One of the main reasons why your attorney may work with an expert witness is to prove liability for the accident. Accident reconstruction experts use principles of math and physics to reach an opinion about what caused an accident. The expert’s testimony may be used to break a so-called “truth contest” when each driver is blaming the other for the accident. An expert could also recreate a slip and fall when you may not have witness testimony available. Their testimony can either fill gaps in your case or strengthen what other witnesses have said in court.

Your attorney may also work with expert witnesses to estimate the amount of your damages. They could rely on the following types of experts:

  • Medical experts to understand the scope and extent of your injuries
  • Vocational experts to learn what professional limitations you may have and how much you could have earned had it not been for your accident
  • Life care planning experts to know how much assistance and care you may require in the future
  • Economic experts to learn how much inflation and wage growth could impact the value of your settlement in the future

It is not uncommon for an attorney to work with several expert witnesses in a complex personal injury case. Your attorney would use their experience and judgment to know when an expert witness is necessary and what type is needed.

How Non-Testifying Experts May Help Your Personal Injury Case

Personal Injury cases often involve some unique fact patterns. Your attorney must understand both the facts and how they fit into the law for you to qualify for financial compensation. For example, your lawyer may need to know what questions to ask at depositions or what type of documents to request during discovery.

Non-testifying experts can make your lawyer more effective during your case. They can help your lawyer prepare for both the pre-trial process and if your case goes to trial.

Non-testifying experts work in the background, and they do not have a visible role in your case. Since they are not giving an opinion that would be used in court, they do not have to be qualified through a court test.

Legal Standards for Admissibility of Expert Testimony in South Carolina

Not everyone is qualified to testify as an expert in a personal injury case. One has to be qualified as an expert to be able to testify in court. You must prove an expert’s qualifications before they can testify in your case. And before your case goes to trial, the court may even hold a hearing about whether to admit expert testimony (the defendant may also have expert witnesses of their own to testify).

According to South Carolina rules of evidence, the expert must be qualified by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, and their testimony must be relevant and reliable. To establish reliability, South Carolina uses factors that are similar to the Daubert Standard that is part of federal cases. Factors that determine reliability include:

  • Scientific methodology
  • Peer review
  • Consideration of general acceptance
  • The rate of error of a particular technique

Your case could come down to whether your experts are allowed to testify. For example, many product liability cases have failed because the court struck the expert witness testimony on which the plaintiff’s case rested. Your attorney must have access to reputable and reliable experts so their testimony can survive the inevitable attempt to disallow the expert’s testimony.

Handling the Defense’s Expert Witnesses

Just like you have expert witnesses, the defense may have their own testifying experts. Oftentimes, a case may come down to a “battle of the experts.” Your attorney needs to challenge the defense expert witnesses at every step of the way, and the defense will do the same to you.

Attorneys can also challenge expert witnesses at multiple points of the case. Your attorney may question the other side’s expert witnesses in depositions. If they are qualified to testify at trial, your attorney will also have the chance to cross-examine the defense expert witnesses.

How the Costs of Expert Witnesses Are Handled

Expert witnesses can be expensive. After all, these are leading professionals in their field. How the cost of expert witnesses is handled depends on your agreement with the attorney. Some attorneys may pay for the cost of expert witnesses out of their share of the proceeds of your case. Others may deduct the cost of the expert from the overall amount of your settlement before anyone else is paid. Any fees that are your responsibility must be spelled out in the representation agreement. Otherwise, an attorney cannot charge you for anything.

Contact an Experienced Charleston Personal Injury Lawyer

Attorney Frank Hartman and his team at The Hartman Law Firm are experienced litigators who are deeply familiar with the legal process. We will work to maximize the value of your personal injury claim, fighting to overcome whatever roadblocks the insurance company tries to put in your way. You need to take the first step to getting legal help, which is contacting us for a free case evaluation. We will listen to you and learn about you before discussing your legal options. To speak with an attorney, you can contact us through our website, or you can call us today at 843.300.7600. We never charge anything unless you win your case.

The Hartman Law Firm Logo
Call Now For a
Free Case Evaluation
843.300.7600Available 24/7

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.