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100 Most Influential Lawyers in America
– the National Law Journal

How the defense will attack your expert witnesses’ testimony

On Behalf of | Jul 1, 2024 | Personal Injury

Even if the facts of your car accident case are relatively straightforward, there’s a good chance you will face some contentiousness before your case resolves.

The defense might argue over causation to reduce or escape liability altogether, and they might draw into question the extent and severity of your damages. To support your claim, you might rely on the testimony of an expert, such as an accident reconstructionist or a medical professional.

Yet, just because these witnesses are experts doesn’t meant that the judge and jury are going to believe everything they say.

This is because the defense will have the opportunity to cross-examine these experts and call their own witnesses to contradict them. Therefore, as you prepare for your personal injury trial, you should anticipate how the defense will approach your expert witness testimony so that you’re prepared to counter them.

How expert testimony is attacked in a personal injury case

The strongest expert testimony can still come under attack. Here are some ways that the defense might approach the expert testimony in your case:

  • Drawing the expert’s methodologies into question: What better way to attack the expert’s conclusions than by attacking the way that they reached those conclusions? The defense might try to show that your expert deviated from acceptable scientific procedures or that they were biased or motivated in some way to come to a particular conclusion. Before putting your expert on the stand, gain an understanding of what it is that they did and why their process for reaching their conclusions is sound.
  • Attacking the expert’s lack of experience: Experts are not equal. Some are more experienced, educated, and overall qualified than others. If your expert is relatively new to their field or they have limited experience handling cases similar to yours, they might come under attack on those grounds. If that happens, you might be able to fall back on the principles they used to reach their conclusion, as well as demonstrate how their other qualifications make them a reliable expert in your case.
  • Impeaching by prior inconsistent statement: The expert in your case might be deposed prior to trial. They might’ve also written articles about the issue at hand or testified in other cases. These prior statements give the defense a lot of room to find inconsistent statements. If they do find some, then they’ll use them against your expert to try to draw their reliability into question. If this happens, you’ll need to find a way to rehabilitate the witness so that their credibility isn’t destroyed. You might be able to do this by showing the expert’s justifications for the inconsistent statements, which might be believable and warranted.
  • Highlighting conflicts: The defense will almost certainly point out that your expert witness is being paid by you and your legal team, but they might try to point out other conflicts, biases and motivations. Think about that possibility before selecting an expert witness.
  • Calling their own experts: The defense will probably call their own expert witnesses to counter yours. Research these witnesses so that you know what to expect from them and can find your own areas of attack.

Protect expert witnesses to protect your personal injury claim

Strong expert testimony can be powerful in your car accident case. But if you allow the defense to run them over, then you can miss a key opportunity to lock the jury in on a finding of causation and liability. So, heading into your trial, be sure to have strong expert witnesses on your side, anticipate what the defense might throw at them, and be ready to counter it.