There are three types of witnesses that may be called to testify in a trial: eyewitnesses, character witnesses, and expert witnesses. The terms “eyewitness” and “character witness” are self-explanatory: the former recounts what they saw during a certain event, and the latter describes the personality of the victim, defendant, or another trial participant. But what does an expert witness do?
Simply put, an expert witness is a specialist in a niche field who can provide objective information to the judge and jury so they can better understand the circumstances of a trial or hearing. There are many types of expert witnesses, including but not limited to the four listed below.
1. Financial Experts
A finance expert witness is someone who knows the ins and outs of the financial world. These savvy economic connoisseurs are often called into trials involving banking litigation, corporate embezzlement, and loan and royalty disputes. They may also assist in cases pertaining to lost or withheld wages, antitrust matters, and damage computations.
2. Vocational Experts
A vocational expert witness is knowledgeable about the job field and what physical and mental requirements are necessary to be employed in the current market. Vocational experts are most often consulted during disability hearings and when an applicant’s Social Security claim is in question.
3. Medical Experts
As the name implies, a medical expert witness is a certified doctor, nurse, or another type of licensed practitioner who can share their medical knowledge with the court. These professionals are usually involved in trials involving personal injury claims, medical malpractice lawsuits, and various sorts of interpersonal abuse and substance abuse cases.
In criminal trials involving wrongful, violent, or suspicious deaths, two types of medical expert witnesses are particularly helpful: medical examiners and mental health professionals. Medical examiners, commonly known as coroners, can comment about a victim’s cause of death. Meanwhile, a psychologist or psychiatrist can give their opinion about whether a defendant is mentally capable of standing trial.
4. Forensic Experts
A forensic expert witness is a scientist who analyzes evidence pertaining to a case and then interprets the results for the court. This is especially important when it comes to unwitnessed violent crimes in which the perpetrator needs to be identified through non-visual means, such as fingerprint or DNA analysis.
Justice can be complicated. Sometimes, experts are needed to bring clarity to the courtroom. Their knowledge can make a big difference in trials and hearings. From ensuring that an injured worker gets the compensation they deserve to putting bad guys behind bars, expert witnesses are a vital part of the legal system.