This is the third post in our series on handling car accident cases in Rochester, Minnesota. Our last article discussed establishing liability after a car accident. A personal injury attorney may employ an investigator or use the discovery process in an effort to establish fault. It is important that you retain a lawyer who is experienced in dealing with such issues. In this post we will discuss the need for expert witnesses in some car wreck cases. Contact our Rochester office if you or a loved one have been injured.
Expert witnesses often are required in accident * cases involving serious injuries. This is because the rules of evidence do not allow a layperson to testify about matters that require specialized skills, experience, or knowledge to reliably evaluate and analyze. We will discuss the different aspects of a car accident case requiring expert testimony.
Experts referred to as “accident reconstructionists” testify in matters involving disputes over liability. If it is not clear which party was at fault, a reconstructionist reviews police reports, examines the wrecked vehicles, measures skid marks, and looks at other information to form a scientific opinion about the relative fault of each party. The reconstructionist issues a report discussing his or her findings and testifies at trial if necessary. The defense can retain an expert who often offers a contradictory opinion. The jury will decide which expert to believe.
Medical experts often are required to offer opinions regarding the long-term prognosis of a seriously injured victim. While treating physicians testify about care already provided, experts provide opinions as to future medical care. These professionals offer opinions about the extent to which a victim can be expected to recover. They also predict whether a victim will need future surgeries or therapy and the cost of such treatment. The defendant’s medical experts are permitted to examine the victim at an Independent Medical Examination (IME) and issue their own reports.
A third expert potentially called upon in car accident cases is an economist. This professional determines the amount of money a victim would have earned had the accident not occurred. Economists offer opinions as to the amount of money, if any, a victim can expect to earn in light of his or her medical limitations. The difference in these amounts, plus the cost of any necessary retraining, can form the basis for a victim’s economic damages. The defendant’s professionals typically disagree with the amount of losses a victim has sustained.
It is important to retain an experienced Rochester car accident lawyer if you or a loved one have been injured in a wreck. Experienced counsel have existing relationships with the types of experts described above. Counsel are familiar with how to work with such professionals. Our attorneys have handled many cases involving expert witnesses and have recovered more than $125 million on behalf of accident and other victims.
We also serve the following southeast Minnesota cities: Red Wing, Winona, Mankato, Austin, Albert Lea, and Owatonna, as well as the cities of Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, and Bloomington. We also serve the Iowa cities of Mason City, Charles City, Osage, Spencer, Garner, Forest City, and Northwood and the Wisconsin cities of La Crosse, Onalaska, Sparta, Viroqua, River Falls, Ellsworth, Whitehall, and Black River Falls.
*A note about language:
Federal agencies involved in traffic safety have banned use of the word “accident” for more than 20 years, and with good reason. However, we use the word “accident” on our website, even though we know it has implications that run contrary to our professional thinking and training, because we recognize that “accident” is the word most commonly used in online searches when people are looking for help after being injured in a crash. If you’d like more information about this topic, please see our blog, “Car Accident or Car Crash?”