Using Medical Experts in Car Accident Cases

Motor Vehicle Collision Lawyers Serving Chicago and Surrounding Areas

After a car crash, you may be dealing with catastrophic injuries. These injuries may not be fully apparent right after the accident. In some cases, by the time of trial, which can be more than a year after an accident, the injuries may still not be fully resolved. Catastrophic injuries can affect you far into the future, and it may be necessary to retain experts to provide testimony about the extent of the harm. If you want to know more about using medical experts in car accident cases, you should talk to the Chicago car accident attorneys at Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Eagle, Johnson & Bareck.

Using Medical Experts in Car Accident Cases

Both percipient and designated expert witnesses can make or break a car accident case. Percipient witnesses are people who saw the accident happen or treated the accident victim. Designated experts are people who testify with information and analysis based on their credentials, experience, and expertise. Expert witnesses are usually necessary to explain technical matters that the ordinary layperson may not be able to understand.

If you want to recover damages for complicated injuries suffered in a car accident, you may need to use medical experts. For example, it may be necessary for your doctor to testify as a percipient medical expert on the injuries as she observed them when you first came in to see her. For another example, it may be necessary to retain an expert to provide testimony on a future disability.

In Illinois, expert testimony is admissible if (1) an expert is qualified by education, training, experience, skill, or knowledge, and (2) the testimony will help the trier of fact in understanding the evidence. The lower court has discretion about whether to allow expert testimony, and the decision that the lower court makes will not be overturned except when there is an abuse of discretion.

An expert does not need to have personally examined you in order to testify, although a personal medical examination can be helpful. An expert can testify based on medical records, reports, or tests performed by other doctors that the expert examined to come to his or her own opinion. A medical expert witness may provide an expert opinion based on facts that are not within his or her personal knowledge, as long as they are of the sort on which experts reasonably rely in his or her medical field. For example, a surgeon may be able to provide an expert opinion about how likely it is that a certain future surgery will be needed to resolve a medical problem that you have that has already been identified by another expert, and whether it is likely that there will be any residual medical problems after the surgery.

However, the court will not permit speculative expert testimony. The medical expert's opinion must be supported by facts, such as those contained in a medical record or imaging.

Sometimes liability may be clear, but the parties may not agree about the extent or nature of the injuries. Moreover, not all medical experts will agree. Sometimes both sides must call medical experts to testify about the plaintiff's medical condition, their physical suffering, the cause of the injuries, whether particular treatments or procedures are reasonable, and the extent to which the plaintiff may be disabled afterward.

The jury's job is to weigh the conflicting testimony of two or more different doctors. An attorney who retains an expert must make sure that the expert is extremely credible and experienced and can explain technical medical matters to a jury.

Explore Your Options with a Chicago Attorney Following a Serious Car Accident

If you are concerned about using medical experts in a car accident case, you should consult an aggressive personal injury lawyer. At Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Eagle, Johnson & Bareck, we represent accident victims in settlement negotiations and litigation in Aurora, Quincy, Champaign, Rockford, Champaign, and Springfield, as well as other areas of Adams, Cook, Sangamon, Kane, Champaign, and Winnebago Counties. You can call us at 312-263-6330 or toll-free at 800-444-1525 for a free consultation.