Expert witnesses may be used in New Orleans personal injury lawsuits for a variety of reasons. While the topics an expert may testify about are essentially limitless, both personal injury and defense attorneys frequently employ experts for such diverse purposes as reconstructing motor vehicle accidents, examining the engineering of a dangerous product, and evaluating future damages associated with an injury.
The purpose of expert testimony is to help clarify for the jury an issue that requires knowledge beyond that held by a typical juror. When an expert’s testimony is based upon sound reasoning and valid science, hearing from an expert can prove very helpful to a jury. Unfortunately, the broad range of topics that fall under the umbrella of “expert testimony” means that on occasion, attorneys may seek to have experts testify about findings based on questionable scientific reasoning or on studies only marginally related to the issue in the case.
When the defense seeks to present such an expert witness, a personal injury attorney may request a hearing to determine whether the expert’s testimony will be admissible at trial. This hearing will be conducted by the trial judge outside the presence of a jury. At the hearing, the judge will hear testimony regarding the reasoning or methodology underlying the testimony to determine whether it is scientifically valid, and whether it can be applied to the facts of the case.
At the hearing, the judge will explore evidence regarding whether the technique used by the expert has been accepted in the scientific community. Topics explored typically include whether the technique has been subjected to peer review or publication, the known or potential rate of error of the technique, and the standards controlling the techniques’ operation and testability. If the judge finds that the technique has not been accepted in the scientific community or does not apply to the case, the expert will not be allowed to testify.
If you have suffered a personal injury and have any questions, please allow us to answer them for you. We can be reached at 504-581-6411 or 855-GERTLER.