What Is An Expert Witness?
An expert witness is a person with a particular skill set whose opinion may help a jury make sense of the facts of evidence in a case. The testimony from an expert witness has a formidable impact on the judges final decision. There are four main components to an expert witness.
Qualifications Of An Expert Witness
In order for expert witnesses to be advisable in court, they must have the following qualifications:
- An expert witness must practice in the profession that’s relevant to the issue of the case. For example, our own Stephen Lippy, is an expert witness for claims adjustment case because Mr. Lippy has over 15 years experience practicing in the industry.
- Expert witnesses must also be skilled in their profession. It takes more than experience to be an expert witness, you must also have a skill level that makes you stand out in your profession.
- An expert witness has to have specialized knowledge through either training, practical experience, or education that is relevant to the case. Not just anybody can become an expert witness, a particular level of education, training, and experience in the field is required.
Reliability Of An Expert Witness
In order to become an expert witness, one must be reliable. The reliability of an expert witness is determined by the following factors:
- An expert witness must be able to submit ample data and factual information relevant to the case.
- Possessing methods that are common in the field is a necessity for an expert witness. The presentation of alternative methods that aren’t commonly used in the field is unlikely to resonate with the court or be taken seriously.
- Expert witnesses must also be able to appropriately apply the methods and principles that they’ve presented to the court. In some cases, in order to apply the method or principles an expert witness may have to do a demonstration for the court.
Helpfulness Of The Expert Witness
Ultimately an expert witness must be helpful and in order to do so must be able to add value to the case. An expert witnesses testimony must:
- Provide a reliable opinion. Providing a reliable opinion is helpful to assisting fact finders reach a conclusion to a specific case.
- Be scientifically sound. An expert witness testimony must be able to connect science backed evidence that was not previously apparent to the court in order to support the case evidence.
An expert witness may provide an opinion but that opinion should be considered scientifically sound and/or reasonable when applied to the facts of the case. Expert witnesses will be considered unhelpful if they provide information that is already known or obvious to the jury. Therefore, providing new information that is helpful to the jury ensures that there’s no gap in their reasoning.
Expert Witness Must Provide Foundational Facts
A key distinction between fact witnesses and an expert witnesses is that expert witnesses may provide an opinion. However, it’s important to note that their opinion must be based on foundational facts. The foundational facts of an expert witness’s opinion must also be agreed upon by other experts in the field. All opinions must be based on facts from which the expert comes to the conclusion to be accurate and relevant to the case.
To learn more about how Stephen Lippy was qualified as an expert witness or to find out how our team may be able to assist your law firm as an expert witness for your clients case, call our team today!