This is the next post in a series of articles discussing bicycle accident litigation in Peoria, Illinois. My previous article discussed the importance of the discovery process in such cases. Discovery allows attorneys to gather evidence from various sources in advance of a trial. Invaluable tools such as interrogatories, depositions, and subpoenas are used by the lawyers for each party to obtain objective evidence in support of their respective cases. An attorney with trial experience will understand how to navigate the discovery process and comply with the rules of evidence on your behalf. In this article, I will explain why expert witnesses are often a necessity in bike accident cases. If you need assistance, contact my office today to speak with a lawyer.
Illinois’ rules of evidence require the use of an expert witness when an issue presented to the Court involves specialized knowledge, training, or skill. Only individuals who are determined by the Court to be “experts,” may testify regarding such matters. For instance, an average individual would not be permitted to provide testimony regarding an accident victim’s medical prognosis. Rather, a physician specialized in that field of medicine who is qualified to render an opinion on such matters would provide expert testimony. Expert opinions may be used to support or refute a particular fact or piece of evidence, either in settlement negotiations or during a trial.
Experts are often necessary in bicycle accident cases for a variety of reasons. The first relates to the issue of liability. As I have previously discussed in this series, it is not uncommon in bike crash cases for the defense to argue that the cyclist was partially at fault. The plaintiff’s attorney may wish to dispute such a claim or establish the relative percentage of liability for both parties. An expert such as an accident reconstructionist may be needed to recreate the conditions and scene of the crash. The expert would then provide an opinion as to the cause of the accident, or as to their findings of negligence on the part of the plaintiff and defendant. It is important to note that the defense will likely also retain an expert who arrives at a different conclusion than the plaintiff’s expert. For this reason, it is imperative to clearly explain and communicate the elements of the expert’s testimony to the jury.
In light of the serious injuries that often result from bike accidents, medical and financial experts are often necessary when it comes to calculating a victim’s damages. For instance, as referenced above, the victim’s doctor can testify as an expert regarding the types and extent of the victim’s injuries. They may also provide information about their past and current treatment and the types of future treatments that may be needed as well as the cost of such care. The expenses for medical treatments, both before the trial and anticipated in the future, will be considered when determining the victim’s damage award. Long-term or permanent loss of employment as a result of the injuries sustained may also significantly impact the amount of damages to which one is entitled. Therefore, vocational experts may provide opinions about when or if the injured party may return to work. Individuals with financial expertise may be called upon to opine about the victim’s loss of future earnings as a result of their injuries.
By their nature, expert opinions involve specialized and often complicated theories or concepts. It is imperative that your attorney have experience working with experts and the skills necessary to explain expert testimony clearly to the jury on your behalf. Failure to do so could leave the jurors confused and negatively impact the outcome of your case. If you need assistance with a bicycle accident case, contact my Peoria office to speak with a lawyer. Our firm also serves clients in the Illinois cities of Bloomington, Eureka, Galesburg, Morton, Normal, Pekin, Springfield, and Washington.