This is the next post in our series on the handling of trucking accident cases in Peoria, Illinois. Our last article discussed the importance of discovery in cases which involved a semi-truck. Unlike what is shown in movies, cases are not won through shocking evidence which is uncovered at the last minute. Instead, cases are built through the methodical gathering of information. This gathering is only available due to the discovery process. It is, therefore, vital to retain a personal injury lawyer who is experienced in the process. In this article we will discuss an important topic – the need for expert witnesses in trucking accident cases. If you need assistance the contact our office today to speak with an attorney.
The rules of evidence do not permit a layperson to testify in regard to matters involving specialized skill, knowledge, or training. A witness must be deemed an “expert” by the Court in order to testify on such matters. In the context of wrecks involving a big rig, experts may be necessary to establish both the liability of a defendant and the damages of a victim. We will discuss each of these areas in turn as well as the need to retain counsel who is experienced in dealing with experts.
Peoria victims may need to retain an expert to establish the liability of defendants as well as the damages of a victim
We have previously discussed the fact that truck accident cases can involve multiple defendants. These defendants can include the driver as well as the company which employs the driver. Claims against both the driver and the company can include the negligence which caused the accident. Claims against the company, specifically, can also include negligence in the hiring of an unqualified driver and/or a failure to properly train and/or supervise the driver. Illinois Courts will only allow experts to testify as to what is considered standard and appropriate practice, within the trucking industry, to hire drivers and to supervise them. This means that an expert will typically be required to establish liability.
The foregoing concept is best explained by way of example. Suppose a trucking company hired a driver who had a valid CDL but failed to conduct a drug test of the driver. Now suppose that the company did not have procedures in place to ensure that the driver was following safety protocols while on the road. Such protocols may include the driver ensuring that all of the truck’s equipment is functioning before leaving a shipping yard. The driver subsequently changes lanes, hits another car, and it is shown that the truck’s turn signal was never seen by the car as it was not functional. The truck driver subsequently fails a drug test. Under this scenario, an expert witness can testify that it is standard in the industry to perform background and drug checks on drivers. The expert can also testify that it is standard for a driver to have to inspect a truck’s equipment. If the jury agrees with the expert then it may find that the trucking company was negligent in both its hiring and supervision of the driver.
The use of expert witnesses is also important to the calculation of a victim’s damages. If one has been seriously injured, and is unlikely to make a full recovery, then an occupational expert may be necessary. Such an individual can testify as to how much the victim would have earned in their former career had the injury not occurred. The expert would also be able to testify to the amount of money the victim can be expected to earn under their new situation. The difference between these two amounts is a sum to which the victim may be entitled. The determination of such calculations can be quite complicated and Peoria victims must ensure that their counsel retains a qualified expert.
Peoria trucking accident victims should retain an attorney who is experienced in dealing with experts
It is vital that injury victims retain an attorney who is experienced in dealing with experts. This is due to the fact that jurors are responsible for deciding whether an expert is credible and to be believed. This means that counsel must be able to question an expert, and present information to the jury, in ways that jurors will understand. The jurors may find an expert non-credible, or discount their testimony entirely, if the information is presented in a way that is confusing and convoluted.
If you have been injured, then contact our office today to speak with a Peoria trucking accident lawyer. Our firm practices heavily in the area of personal injury law and we pride ourselves on providing a high level of service. We understand that this is a serious time in your life. We will give your case the attention it deserves. Our office also serves clients in the Illinois cities of Bloomington, Eureka, Galesburg, Morton, Normal, Pekin, Springfield, and Washington.