How many types of expert witnesses are there? Probably a lot more than you think.
Physicians and Medical Researchers
Doctors, physician’s assistants, nurses and other relevant medical personnel can be asked to act as expert witnesses in court cases. These cases involve medical malpractice, personal injury or criminal cases. Medical expert witnesses are often asked to give an opinion on whether someone will recover from injury or how much pain and suffering could affect the plaintiff’s life. They could be called in to testify in domestic violence or assault cases as well as lawsuits over personal injury.
Banking and Financial Experts
A finance expert witness is often called to give an opinion on financial matters. In the case of divorce, an accountant can help find hidden assets, testify on tax matters or give an opinion on the division of wealth. Financial experts can also give opinions on the value of assets in probate court. If the deceased had valuable collections of antiques, guns, jewelry or art, a financial expert witness can testify as to the value of the collections. Expert witnesses are also used in cases of fraud involving stocks and bonds.
Teachers and child psychologists are often called in cases of child custody or adoption. Their opinions are useful in determining if a child should live with one parent or in a shared custody situation. Experts evaluate the children and the home environment and give opinions on what would be in the child’s best interest.
In cases involving product liability, the courts often turn to engineers to determine if the product was manufactured correctly or if the product is unsafe. Engineers are also called expert witnesses in civil and criminal cases involving collapsing buildings, roads and bridges.
Coroners and forensic experts are usually called on for criminal cases to testify on issues such as DNA found at the crime scene or on evidence, or on the chemical makeup of substances found by the police during an investigation. Forensic experts can also be called in for a civil case, such as the blood alcohol level of a driver who caused an accident involving injuries or death. Some forensic experts give testimony on fires that may be arson.
Social workers can be called in to testify about the social conditions of the defendant in a criminal case, such as alcoholism or drug use. Mental health experts can testify about a person’s competence to sign documents or handle their financial affairs.
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There are many ways in which experts can aid the court system. Expert witnesses are drawn from many different areas of expertise.