Facts And Opinions — How Lay And Expert Witnesses Help Your Accident Case

Witness testimony is some of the most important evidence in your auto accident case. They serve to help a jury understand difficult elements and to determine what they believe actually occurred.

It's important to understand, then, the two types of witnesses you will encounter. What are these? What are their limitations? And what do they each bring to your case? Here's what every accident victim needs to know. 

What Is a Lay Witness?

Lay witnesses are witnesses there to provide facts. They generally testify about what they perceived through their senses — including what they saw, heard, tasted, smelled, or felt. The typical lay witness in an accident case saw or heard some or all of the accident and tells the jury what they witnessed. 

Lay witnesses are not generally there to give opinions about most elements. They can attest to what they witnessed, based not on their personal expertise, but on facts as they perceived them. 

There are limited instances of a lay witness being asked to offer an opinion based on what they witnessed. For instance, an eyewitness may testify that they saw a driver with something in their hands before the accident. When asked what they thought it was at the time, they might state that they believed it was a phone. 

What Is an Expert Witness?

On the other hand, expert witnesses usually weren't at the scene or related to the accident in any way. They are skilled professionals in some field and are there to offer an unbiased opinion based on that training or experience. 

Expert witnesses generally begin by explaining what makes them an expert in the subject about which they will testify. They must convince the jury that their opinion is worth relying upon.

In a car accident, you commonly see medical providers, accident reconstruction experts, and mental health professionals testifying about specific elements of the case. But you or your opponent may call on experts in any field necessary, including things like manufacturing processes, financial loss calculations, and highway safety issues. 

Where Can You Learn More?

The right witnesses will make or break your injury case. Make sure you have the best support on your side by working with an experienced personal injury lawyer in your state as early as possible. They can often call upon a network of various expert witnesses who can help you build a solid case for the jury. Make an appointment today. 

Contact a local auto accident attorney to learn more.