Many personal injury and wrongful death claims depend on expert witnesses to establish key elements such as the duty of care or negligence. An expert witness can be a great asset to a plaintiff during a civil claim in Kansas City. If you hire an attorney, the law firm may have a network of subject matter experts and specialists to testify on your behalf. An expert witness could strengthen your claim against a defendant. Depending on the case and the laws in your state, hiring an expert witness may be a requirement.
What Is an Expert Witness?
Most courts prohibit people from taking the stand and testifying based on their personal opinions or their assessment of facts. The courts make an important exception, however, for expert witnesses. An expert witness is not simply someone with knowledge of an area. It is a person with expertise on a subject based on his or her profession, training, certification and/or education. An expert witness has special knowledge or aptitude in a field that is relevant to the personal injury case.
An expert may testify at court in Kansas City as long as he or she presents scientifically supported analyses. An expert should assess the matter as he or she – or any reasonable professional in the same field – would in his or her daily work. A physician, for example, could walk a jury through how he or she would analyze an x-ray in a personal injury case. The cases that benefit the most from expert witness testimony are typically those with specialized subjects, such as causes of action involving medical malpractice, engineering, construction and manufacturing.
Expert Witness Requirements in Kansas City
An expert witness could help a plaintiff during any claim. An expert can explain complicated facts or processes to a judge or jury to help establish the standards of care and/or a defendant’s breach of duty. In some states, however, the law requires the use of an expert witness to testify during certain types of cases. Expert witness requirements differ from state to state. Most states that require expert testimony only do so during medical malpractice lawsuits.
Missouri Revised Statute 538.225 requires a signed affidavit of merit by a qualified health care provider during medical malpractice claims. While this does not necessarily have to be from an expert, it must be from a professional with a medical license in Missouri who actively practices or retired within five years from the same specialty as the defendant. Recently, Missouri changed its expert witness law. Statute 490.065 now states that an expert witness must base his or her testimony on reliable principles and methods as well as sufficient facts or data.
Kansas does not have an expert witness requirement, but it does require the screening of medical malpractice claims through a special panel. The panel consists of one health care provider each for the plaintiff and defendant, as well as a provider both parties agree upon and a court-appointed attorney. The panel will review the merits of the malpractice claim to determine whether the plaintiff has grounds for a lawsuit. If someone uses an expert witness in Kansas, Section 60-226 of the law allows the opposing side to depose that expert before a trial.
How Much Does an Expert Witness Cost?
Hiring an expert witness can be costly for a plaintiff. Most personal injury lawyers take clients on a contingency fee basis, meaning they front the legal costs of hiring expert witnesses. Then, they deduct the cost of the expert from the plaintiff’s total compensatory award – and only if the jury rules in the plaintiff’s favor. Many law firms do not charge for their services for unsuccessful cases. The typical expert witness can cost around $200 to $500 per hour, plus a few thousand dollars for a retainer fee. This price can vary based on if the expert is reviewing, deposing, testifying, etc. Work with the right lawyer for assistance hiring an expert witness if it is necessary for your case in Kansas City.