Personal injury lawsuits involve claims concerning some form of harm imposed by an individual or company's negligence. As such, they require that litigation procedures be followed in order to proceed to an acceptable settlement or trial. Part of the personal injury claims process includes discovery that involves gathering evidence. In order to develop a successful litigation strategy, experts are a key aspect to prove and win these types of cases.
The Discovery Phase
During the discovery phase, plaintiffs produce medical records and other documents in support of their personal injury claim. Many personal injury attorneys point out that medical records become key evidence that is used in establishing a plaintiff's case. Likewise, the defendant produces documentation and evidence that is relevant to the incident allegedly causing the injury.
General Expert Role
Part of the discovery process involves gathering expert testimony for the case. For example, medical, technical and other professionals may consult on the case to present their assessments that support or negate the claim. This is because the facts are generally too complex for non-professionals to make a determination concerning liability. Experts work in a variety of ways on a personal injury case. First, they may be consulted to assess damages, probable cause and other technical issues specific to the claim. This is usually done prior to filing the case, during depositions in discovery and for trial preparation and testimony.
Medical experts are generally comprised of doctors whose specialty deals with the physical and mental state of the plaintiff. This may involve injuries due to accidents, medical malpractice and other causes of negligence that resulted in harm to the plaintiff. The professionals may testify as to the condition of a plaintiff before, during and after an injury, illness or incident has occurred. They testify as to the present diagnosis for the injured party, as well as the prognosis. Medical experts in a personal injury case may include nurses, doctors, specialists, psychologists, psychiatrists and other medical professionals.
While the medical expert testifies as to the physical and mental condition of an injured party, the vocational expert describes the plaintiff's vocational standing as the result of an injury. This may cover issues like skills, mental and physical occupational demands, employment barriers and labor market aspects. All of this is factored into consideration by vocational experts that go beyond the scope of a medical professional's expertise. Basically, this expert assesses the earning capacity of the individual who was injured. These individuals are useful in bridging the gap between the medical evidence presented and an economist's projection of future damages.
Economists and Accountants
Skilled economists and accountants can provide valuable advice as to the economic loss of earnings that an injured party can expect, based upon prior and future earnings. This testimony, along with that of a vocational expert is key in determining the potential outcome for a personal injury case.
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