Expert witnesses are such a powerful tool in the courtroom that they can make or break your motorcycle accident lawsuit. An eyewitness can testify about the facts and events of the accident, but an expert witness is also valuable because they are credible experts in a field relevant to the case. Expert testimony is used to shed light on complex matters of fact that would otherwise be difficult for a layperson to determine.
Presenting multiple expert witnesses can strengthen your motorcycle accident claim and increase your chances of winning. There are several types of expert witnesses, each with their own set of qualifications. Our knowledgeable motorcycle accident lawyer will go over these and other details about expert witnesses and motorcycle accident lawsuits in this article.
Understanding Expert Witnesses: What Is an Expert Witness
This section will go over the answers to the question, “What is an Expert Witness?”
An expert witness is a credible person with specialized knowledge, skill, education, training, or experience in a field relevant to the case. Expert witnesses may not have personally witnessed the accident firsthand, but their conclusions and testimony based on their expertise are valuable in a lawsuit.
Generally, an expert witness must meet standards of credibility, qualifications, and procedures to pass muster. In Michigan, the courts adopted the “Daubert principle” from the Supreme Court’s Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. case. Under the Daubert principle, trial judges must act as “gatekeepers” against unreliable expert testimony or hearsay. Daubert factors are used to determine whether expert testimony is admissible in court based on its relevance and reliability.
Under Michigan law, a witness can qualify as an expert based on knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education. An expert witness’ testimony can only be admissible or accepted in Michigan courts if:
- It’s based on sufficient data or facts
- It’s a product of reliable methods and principles
- The witness has used relevant principles and methodology to provide a reliable analysis of the facts
Types of Experts Commonly Used In Motorcycle Accident Cases
Expert witnesses from several fields can be especially helpful in motorcycle accident cases. Here are some commonly used experts:
|Type of Expert Witness
|Skills and Expertise
|Accident Reconstruction Experts
|Highway Safety Expert
The Benefits of Expert Witnesses in Motorcycle Accident Lawsuits
A motorcycle accident lawsuit can benefit from expert witness testimony by:
Establishing Liability and Causation
Expert witnesses can testify about accident facts to establish liability and causation. For instance, an accident reconstruction expert can provide a scene analysis to help determine fault. The expert can testify that the defendant drove too fast and failed to yield the right of way, causing the accident. Thus, a plaintiff can use such testimony to prove the defendant was negligent and caused the injuries. Furthermore, motorcycle and highway safety experts can also explain the factors determining an accident’s likelihood, avoidability, and negligence. For example, they can show that the defendant’s motorcycle was defective, causing the accident.
Providing Technical and Scientific Expertise
Expert witnesses in motorcycle accidents provide technical and scientific expertise in various ways. Experts in motorcycle safety and highway safety can look at the road conditions and traffic engineering, as well as the design of the motorcycle and any flaws that might have caused the accident. Meanwhile, medical experts can provide medical reports of the injuries sustained.
Strengthening Damages Claims
In Michigan, motorcycle crash victims must prove fault to receive compensation. Under Michigan’s comparative fault law, the plaintiff’s damages can be reduced based on who was more at fault. You can strengthen your damage claim with expert testimony on the cause of the accident and the extent of the injuries sustained. For instance, a medical expert’s testimony can show the appropriate amount of damages to compensate the plaintiff for their losses and injuries.
Enhancing Credibility and Persuasion
Expert witnesses’ findings and testimony can persuade the judge or jury to award fair and adequate compensation for the plaintiff’s injuries and losses. Expert witnesses, with their specialized knowledge and expertise, can use facts to support the plaintiff’s case and counter any opposing arguments from the defendant. As a result, the case becomes more credible and convincing, with a higher chance of a favorable verdict.
The Role of a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer in Utilizing Expert Witnesses
While using expert witnesses appears to be a surefire strategy, it requires careful planning. In fact, a poorly chosen expert can hurt your case, not help it. In Michigan law, motions in limine can be used to challenge or support the admissibility of expert witness testimony in cases. Thus, you need a Muskegon motorcycle accident lawyer to prevent the court from rejecting your witness testimony. A lawyer can help you:
- Find expert witnesses relevant to the case
- Choose qualified expert witnesses with excellent credentials, reputation, and expertise
- Help prepare the expert witness for deposition and trial testimony
- Ensure expert witnesses have no conflicts of interest or biases that may affect their testimony
- Collaborate with experts to develop case strategies for a favorable result
Should You Work With an Expert Witness?
Because no two cases are alike, using an expert witness is not always necessary. While an expert witness can be useful in some cases, it is not a guaranteed way to win a case. Thus, it’s best to consult a motorcycle accident attorney before hiring an expert witness. Shafer Swartz PLC’s Muskegon motorcycle accident lawyers can help you decide if an expert witness is needed and find a qualified one. Let us help you make the right choice. Contact us here or call (231) 722-2444 for an appointment.