This is the next post in a series discussing handling wrongful death cases in Laredo, Texas. My previous post described the process of calculating damages when an accident results in a loss of life. Following a catastrophic accident, a victim’s loved ones may be entitled to compensation in the form of medical bills, lost future earnings, mental anguish and, in some cases, punitive damages. Expert witnesses often provide key information to support the damage calculation. This article will focus more in depth on the important role of expert witnesses in wrongful death cases. If your loved one has been killed in an accident, it is important to contact a personal injury attorney quickly to represent your interests. If you need assistance, contact my office today to speak with a lawyer.
Expert witnesses play an important role in wrongful death cases. Texas courts follow specific “rules of evidence” that require a person to be classified as an “expert” prior to giving certain types of testimony. Before offering a specific conclusion, the expert must demonstrate that they have “specialized training, knowledge, or skills” in the purported area of expertise. If so, the qualified expert can testify on the subject matter. In wrongful death matters, the plaintiff will retain experts demonstrate the defendant’s liability for the accident and to help determine the calculation of damages. The defendant will also retain its own experts to challenge the plaintiff’s experts with respect to liability and to reduce the financial settlement amount.
Consider the following example. If a young husband and father was tragically killed in a workplace accident at a construction site, several expert witnesses would be required to demonstrate that the defendant(s) were responsible for the death. An accident reconstruction expert may provide testimony about the circumstances surrounding the event. A construction industry expert may testify as to the conditions on the site. If machinery was involved, an engineer may review the equipment for defects. If multiple defendants are involved, experts may be required to opine on each of their potential roles in the accident. Depending upon the facts of the case, additional experts may be required to demonstrate if a defendant was acting negligently or recklessly at the time of the accident.
A variety of experts may be required to develop the survivors’ damage calculation as well. Depending upon the victim’s age and earning potential, a vocational expert may provide an estimation of his potential earnings applicable to his career path. An economist may testify about the amount of support his wife and daughter could have expected from him over his expected life span. Medical experts who treated the victim prior to his death may discuss any medical expenses incurred, nature of the injuries suffered and medical cause of death.
In many cases, your attorney will retain the necessary expert witnesses on your behalf and pay their expenses before the case is resolved. Therefore, it is important to engage a lawyer with the resources needed to incur this cost while the case proceeds. If you have lost a loved one in an accident, I am ready to assist you. Contact my office today to schedule an initial consultation. I also handle matters in other south Texas areas.