The Importance of Expert Witnesses in Personal Injury and Malpractice Cases - Diamond and Diamond Lawyers

The Importance of Expert Witnesses in Personal Injury and Malpractice Cases


Recovering compensation for the losses you suffer at the hands of a negligent party frequently ends up in a courtroom with your lawyer having to prove how an accident or incident occurred. Besides using eyewitnesses, police reports and other documentary evidence to prove the facts and circumstances of your claim, your lawyer might call upon the services of an expert witness to help the trier fact in the decision-making process.

The role of the expert witness in Ontario courts

An expert witness is someone called upon to testify at a trial because of his or her proficiency in a particular field. This proficiency is usually the result of one or more of the following:

  • Education
  • Training
  • Skills
  • Experience

Experts usually possess proficiency in a particular field far surpassing that of the average person. Their role in a trial is not to tell the trier of fact what decision to make. Instead, they offer opinion evidence to assist the court in understanding a particularly complex topic or issue in a particular case.

For example, if you are injured by a negligent doctor performing a surgical procedure, your lawyer would probably present the testimony of a doctor practicing in the same specialty to explain the proper procedures normally followed in the particular type of surgery to establish the standard of care.

Standards for using expert witnesses in court

Before a court will permit someone to be called to testify as an expert witness, the following must be shown:

  • The evidence to be presented is relevant to the case
  • The testimony will aid the judge or jurors
  • No rules of evidence require its exclusion
  • The expert is qualified as such to offer an opinion

Establishing the qualifications of the expert and the relevance of the testimony is usually accomplished through a series of preliminary questions your attorney will ask. For instance, the expertise of a particular witness could be established through questions designed to elicit his or her education and certifications, the number of years the individual has worked in a particular field and other information designed to portray the person as possessing superior skills and knowledge.

Types of expert witnesses and their impact on a case

Expert witnesses can help judges understand different aspects of your claim. Physicians called as experts frequently testify about the long-term effects of certain injuries. Actuaries testify about life expectancies to assist in determining damages. There are engineers who specialize in preparing accident reconstruction capable of creating and presenting computer-generated videos illustrating how a particular accident occurred.

Hearing witnesses testify about how a crash involving multiple vehicles occurred can be supported by a visual recreation of the accident using the information gathered from the accident scene and from other sources. The impact of seeing your accident unfold before them on a screen can sway the trier of fact to find in your favor.

Getting help when you are injured

The personal injury lawyers at Diamond and Diamond have experience handling all types of personal injury and medical negligence cases. We work for you to obtain the maximum compensation available. Contact our 24/7 injury hotline at 1-800-567-HURT or visit our website to speak to someone now about your right to compensation. Consultations are free, and we have offices conveniently located throughout Ontario.

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