Role of Expert Witnesses before Testifying


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When an expert witness is hired, he or she may have various tasks that must be completed before he or she becomes part of the courtroom and testifies on behalf of the plaintiff. If he or she is a psychologist, social worker or other person that is hired for the mental or physical health of the client, he or she may assess and help with the psychological or bodily harm caused by the defendant.

When the situation calls for it, the expert is tasked with creating a report for the claim. This is usually presented to the judge and lawyer before the professional provides his or her testimony in the courtroom. The report itself generally includes most of the important pieces of information about the case such as those involved, the injuries, details and evidence and various other items. The expert places his or her own opinions in the document to include visual aids, exhibits and his or her conclusion. He or she may even add a section with what he or she may say during testifying.

Medical witnesses may need to analyze data, look over injuries, examine and assess video or audio surveillance and translate the procedures and jargon of a treatment to the lawyer or other professionals. Some witnesses may need to decode accounting books, coding and electronic data, follow legal processes and test scientific methods. Depending on the type of expert hired and the relevant case details, the expert may have a busy schedule long before he or she ever presents testimony. When working closely with the lawyer, the legal representative becomes familiar with these processes, data and confusing technical procedures. Then, the expert and lawyer prepare for the courtroom and work together to progress through the claim.

What the Expert may do before Testifying

Some professionals adhere to a code of ethics and principles. Due to these, these experts perform various tasks before testimony is presented in the courtroom to the judge or jury. If a medical expert has been hired, he or she will determine if the injuries sustained are in line with what the previous doctor or healthcare expert has diagnosed. Other aspects such as paperwork and documentation about the conditions, ailments and injuries will be analyzed fully. Then, the expert may provide his or her opinion about the issue to the lawyer and client. It is possible that the case will be strengthened or weakened by his or her opinion and the factors of these concerns.

Other standards of care necessitate the expert seeking out the children, parents or individuals affected by the defendant. For emotional and psychological damage, the professional may attempt to provide counsel or services to mitigate the damage caused. This may require the professional getting the child or adult to talk about abuse, an attack or involvement in criminal activity. Other experts are tasked with performing administrative duties and filing paperwork. If scientific methods are needed, the expert could remain busy until the time to prepare for testimony by examining evidence and connecting various aspects of the claim to the plaintiff and defendant when appropriate and necessary.

The Tasks of the Expert Witness

When a report is not needed, the expert witness often uses his or her time primarily to explain and understand the evidence. Many of these professionals reconstruct the incident piece by piece and then walk through it to clarify details, connect other pieces of evidence and to make sense of the scene. By doing this, it is possible to show how the defendant was the cause of the injury or issue. Visual aids are helpful to explain these details, and the expert may also include computers to increase awareness of certain graphs, scales and timetables.

While the judge may have access to pre-testimony details, the actual words and information supplied at the conclusion of the expert’s job may be different based on what is discovered over the course of investigation, contacting witnesses and placing details together. It is possible to inform the courtroom of many aspects of the injury, damage or scene that were unknown.

Additionally, the professional may connect either the defendant or another individual to the scene and harm sustained by the victim. Through the tasks of the expert, the case may be closer to a successful conclusion, the plaintiff’s claim could become stronger or the expert may not supply what was wanted based on lack of evidence or connection. Most of what an expert performs occurs before he or she testifies in the courtroom.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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