Every personal injury claim has different issues that will have an impact on the outcome of a case. To represent you properly, the lawyer you hire must know which experts are helpful and necessary to prove the essential elements of your case and how to use them effectively to achieve the best outcome for you.
The following list identifies five types of experts frequently needed to address specific questions. An experienced personal injury lawyer will know when such an expert is required, and, equally import, will know who to call on your behalf.
How did the accident happen?
If there are questions about how the accident occurred, and who is at fault, your injury lawyer may need to hire a Reconstruction Expert. This person is a professional engineer who specializes in accident reconstruction to provide the evidence needed to prove what caused your accident. The engineer will review all of the witness accounts and police evidence, and they will also do physical inspections of the accident site and the vehicles involved, including downloading essential information from the black box of each vehicle. A reconstruction expert will then provide a report that includes narrative and diagrams, and in some instances, computer generated re-enactment, along with an opinion as to how the accident happened. This allows your personal injury lawyer to authoritatively argue the liability issue in your favour. Without this report, in many cases, the result will be a much lower settlement.
What if you can’t return to your pre-accident job?
If you can’t do your pre-accident job, you still have a duty to mitigate (lessen) your losses, so eventually, you will need to determine what you can do to make a living. For some people it is obvious; however, others must retrain to be able to work productively in the future. A Vocational Expert is usually a trained psychologist who can interview and test you and tell your personal injury lawyer what your vocational deficits are and what you aptitudes are. From this information, you can proceed in the recommended vocational or educational retraining, and your lawyer can use this information when instructing the Economic Expert, in calculating income losses.
Every seriously injured victim has economic losses. If you are off work for a period of time, or if you can no longer do the same job as you did before your accident, you have a loss that must be put into present day dollars as of the date of the settlement. An Economist who specializes in litigation support can take the vocational factors, including historical earnings and evidence of your future capabilities, and create a report that numerically sets out your economic losses, including the present value of your past and future care, your loss of income, and your loss of opportunities for future income. These numbers allow your personal injury lawyer to negotiate with the insurance companies’ lawyers from a position of strength.
Cost of Care Experts
Seriously injured accident victims will often have the need for a lifetime of paid care. Your personal injury lawyer must know when and who to hire to prove the costs of appropriate care. In conjunction with the other medical experts, an Occupational Therapist will test your functional and occupational needs, and provide a narrative report that outlines your medical history, functional testing results, the care requirements and the cost of that care over your lifetime. Without a Cost of Care Report, the insurance company, or ultimately the Judge, has no credible evidence of what your care requirements will be.
Obviously, the medical evidence is the footing for all of the other expert evidence relating to the value of your claim. These experts often include Orthopedic Surgeons (Musculoskeletal), Neurologists, Neurosurgeons, Neuropsychologists (for brain injuries) and Physiatrists (rehabilitation doctors). It is imperative that your personal injury lawyer knows which type of doctor to engage, to ensure that proper medical opinions are in place, to prove your case.
The personal injury lawyers at Cummings Andrews Mackay LLP all have at least 20 years of experience helping injured people secure compensation for their injuries. We have the expertise to ensure that your case is properly handled. For a free consultation, with no obligation, call us at 780-428-8222 and get our experience working for you.