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Who Can Testify as an Expert Witness at a Trial?

How Does a Person Qualify to Give an Expert Opinion in a Court Case?

Who Can Testify as an Expert Witness at a Trial?In many types of personal injury claims, there may be factual disputes that are complex—medical malpractice and product liability cases often focus on engineering or surgical practices unfamiliar to the layman. In those situations, to help the jurors better understand what happened and why a party may be liable, it’s common practice to bring an expert witness to the stand, someone who can provide a clear and compelling picture for the jury.

Can anyone take the stand as an expert witness? If not, what are the qualifications so testify in a court case as an expert? Are there differences between the subject matter of expert witness testimony and other statements made in court?

The Rules Governing Expert Witnesses

Before you can testify at trial as an expert witness, you must be approved to do so by the court. The admissibility of expert witness testimony is governed by state and federal rules of evidence.

According to the federal rules of evidence, a person may only give expert witness testimony if the court believes that they have knowledge, skill, education, experience or training in a specialized field. Most states have similar requirements.

With respect to witnesses who are not qualified as experts, any opinions expressed will typically be inadmissible in court. However, an expert witness may (and typically does) express an opinion based on an interpretation of facts that have been introduced into evidence. When that evidence involves scientific matters, some state courts will ask for evidence of the reliability of the scientific testing before permitting the testimony at trial. Others will accept the expert witness testimony if it has been “acknowledged by the scientific community.” It’s fairly common for each side to produce its own expert, with conflicting testimony. The judge may choose to admit some testimony and prohibit some, or may allow all expert testimony and defer to the jury to make a determination of which testimony carries more weight.

Contact the Law Offices of David J. Karbasian, PC

Send us an e-mail today or call us at 856-667-4666 / 856-600-HURT to schedule an appointment to discuss your personal injury claim. Evening and weekend consultations are available upon request. We can come to your home or the hospital to meet with you, if necessary.

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