Many cases that make it to litigation are understandably complex. When a case involves specialized knowledge of a topic that is generally considered beyond common understanding of the average person, an expert witness may be called upon to testify on behalf of one of the parties involved. But what exactly defines an expert witness, and when do you know that you need one? Read on to find out.
Expert Witness Defined
In a court of law witness testimony is typically limited to those who were directly involved in or witnessed the issue at hand. Their testimony is based on the facts, and they are prohibited from testifying based on their own opinion or analysis. When the subject requires a more complex understanding than is common, an expert witness may be allowed to testify with their analysis or opinion of the issue. Within the state of California, an expert witness must possess specialized knowledge, skills, or experience of the subject for their testimony to be admissible. Their testimony must be based on reliable information and should aid the arbiter of fact in reaching a decision in the case. Possessing educational or professional titles and credentials also go a long way in helping a witness qualify as an expert. In short, an expert should have a high level of professional experience or education that allows them to be a credible source of opinion and analysis on the case.
The Role of an Expert Witness
The primary role of an expert witness is to assist a judge or jury in understanding a complex topic that is beyond common knowledge. Testimony should be communicated in clear, concise language that is easy for case arbiters to understand and use to come to a decision. The expert witness’s testimony should be rooted in scientific analysis, factual data, or reliable industry methods to demonstrate that the standard of care was met. Their opinion must be based on the same standards that they would use in their professional environment. The expert witness must also be objective in their opinion and analysis and not show any bias towards either party in the case. Expert witnesses may also serve as a consultant to counsel prior to appearing in court. They may also be expected to provide a thorough report of their analysis and conclusions of the case. A judge may determine the credibility of the witness via pretrial hearings. Ultimately, an expert witness is there to provide an unbiased explanation of a complex subject and aid the case arbiters in coming to a final decision in the matter.
When Do You Need an Expert Witness?
There are a wide variety of cases that may require the testimony of an expert witness. Cases involving complex regulations, such as real estate and building codes are commonly in need of expert witnesses to explain the facts to a judge or jury. Other examples where an expert witness may be needed include determining severity of injury, medical malpractice, insurance claims and liability issues. An expert witness may also be used to counter an expert being used by another party. In cases involving multiple experts, it is important that your expert be able to hold up to cross examination by the opposing party. A well qualified expert who cannot adequately rebut the testimony of an opposing witness could cost you your case.
An expert witness can be a powerful tool in helping you craft a winning case. At Edrington and Associates we have extensive experience serving as expert witnesses on both the plaintiff and defendant sides in court. Our expertise comes from decades of experience as landlords, property managers, real estate brokers, and building inspectors. For expert witness testimony in cases involving real estate issues, look no further than Edrington and Associates.