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Personal Injury Experts

Fairfax Injury Lawyer Brien Roche Addresses Personal Injury Experts

Brien Roche

In personal injury cases it’s quite common that attorneys use an expert witness.  They may be used either by the plaintiff or the party being sued.  An expert witness is a witness who either by reason of education, training or work has some skill that she can use to explain something complex to the jury. The hope is this will allow the jury to better understand that complex issue.

Expert Witness Threshold

In using an expert witness there are several criteria that should be met before he will be able to testify:

  • Subject matter that the expert is going to address must not be within the common knowledge of the jury.
  • Must have the background to express expert opinions on the subject matter.
  • Subject matter must be recognized as not being what some people call “junk science”.
  • The testimony must be set forth in accord with the Rules of the Court. This means that it must be set forth when the court requires it. In addition it must be set forth with enough detail that the other side does not have to guess as to what the opinions are and what the bases for those opinions are.
  • When the witness testifies, she must be prepared to express opinions based upon a reasonable degree of probability. What may be possible is not good enough.
  • Finally the court may limit the number of experts.

Call, or contact us for a free consult.

Checking Out The Witness

In terms of checking out witnesses there are several things that you can do:

    Google

  • Do a Google name search using the connector term.  Your Google name search should be set up as follows “brien”AROUND(2)”roche”;
  • If you have a picture of the person then in the search bar click the camera icon and upload that picture;
  • To get a picture of a person, go to Google Images and conduct a search;
  • Set up a Google Alert as to the witness;
  • Go to Google Scholar at https://scholar.google.com to check out any articles cited or written by the person;
  • Go to Google Video at www.google.com/videohp to see if there is anything there on this witness;
  • Pacer

  • Go to the federal court search page at www.pacer.gov and use PACER Case Locator which will do a search of all federal courts.  On that page, use “find parties advanced”.  When you have found what you want on PACER, in order to get most of the documents for free, go to “Recap” or what is called www.courtlistener.com where you can get most of the PACER documents for free;
  • Public Sources

  • Go to the public library and 2 good databases AtoZReference and ReferenceUSA, both of which are good in terms of locating people;
  • If you have a Facebook page then go to your page and key in who it is you want to search for;
  • Whether you have a Twitter account or not, check out what they’re saying on Twitter at http://twitter.com/search-advanced;
  • If you have a Linkedin page and want to search whether or not the witness has a Linkedin page then go to your Linkedin account.  Using the search box in the top left side of the page, you can search for someone else.  Before you conduct any search, click the “me” drop-down menu in the upper right-hand corner and click on “settings” and “privacy”.  Click the privacy tab at the top of the screen and then click “profile viewing options”.  Chose “private mode” which leaves no trace of your identity;
  • To check out old websites of the person go to www.archive.org and use whatever web address you have for that person;
  • Submit a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to any state licensing boards if they have state licenses;
  •  Search the Defense Research Institute at www.dri.org to see if this person has spoken or presented to that organization;
  • Check the Virginia Supreme Court website for local courts where that person lives to see if there are any pending or past lawsuits involving that person;
  • Fee Sites

  • If you have access to the Lexis or Westlaw databases, then check those out;
  • Skip Smasher is a subscription background database available to private investigators.  At this site you can typically get a social security number.  In general with a social security number you can get a host of information on people.  Another fee-based site where you can get a social security number is www.tloxp.com;
  • Go to www.crimesmasher.com which is a publicly available site to do a criminal background check;
  • Check www.blackbookonline.info which can provide a wealth of free public records;
  • To check social media and news sites, go to the site called www.peekyou.com which searches 60 other sites;
  • www.opensecrets.org has tracked political contributions since 1990
  • Confirm the school background of the witness;

Brain Injury Cases

A frequent flier in brain injury cases are neuropsychologists. A neuropsychologist is a psychologist who tests people with purported brain injuries or other problems. The goal is to measure whether the injury shows itself in some subtle way. These subtle ways are memory loss, trouble counting or doing other math or not being able to maintain focus. In addition there are many other subtle signs that may point to a brain injury.

For instance in some cases such experts will claim that the plaintiff is faking.  This may be based on what are called malingering tests. Whether these tests are valid is a frequent battle ground. The questions that are part of this test give points for certain responses. To know what the points or answers mean you have to get all of the questions. With the questions and answers a proper analysis can be done. My own review of these questions has led me to believe the malingering tests are bogus.

Personal Injury Experts-Cross Examination

In terms of cross-examining defense personal injury experts as to the cause of a herniated disc the questioning can go as follows:

  • An auto crash can cause a herniated disc.
  • The plaintiff had a crash.
  • The plaintiff had immediate low back pain.
  • The MRI showed a herniated disc in the lower back.
  • Are you aware of any other event that occurred right before her symptoms began that is the more likely cause of her symptoms?

When the defense expert claims that the condition should have healed within six (6) months, ask the doctor the exact day, hour and minute that the condition in fact healed.  Certainly the defense attorney will object that the doctor is being asked to speculate.  That of course is the point. Call, or contact us for a free consult.

Personal Injury Experts-Federal

In federal courts the standard for expert testimony is that the art or science must permit a reasonable opinion to be stated. In other words the science must not be junk. The court will look at whether the theory or technique employed has been tested. How often has it been tested? What is the error rate of the tests? Has there been peer review? In addition the court will ask if the theory or technique is accepted in the relevant community?

The Daubert case sets forth these federal principles.

Personal Injury Experts-Biomechanical Engineers

Biomechanical engineers can be of great help in certain types of injury claims. Such an engineer is able to analyze the nature and extent of physical forces that are imposed on the body. He can explain how that can result in serious injury. Although these experts are not accident reconstruction experts they can testify that the crash occurred in a certain fashion. In addition they can explain the physical forces at work.

Finding Biomechanical Engineers

In terms of trying to find biomechanical engineers, excellent places to look are academic centers. In addition reviewing professional and scientific journals may be fruitful.  These journals will bring you current as to ideas bouncing around. They also will help to identify people in the forefront of this field. These people may be willing to assist with your case.  Furthermore finding an expert in this fashion also avoids the taint of using a search service for this purpose.

One of the early cases on the use of this type of testimony is Mannino v. International Manufacturing, 650 F.2d 846 (6thCir. 1981). This case addressed a number of evidentiary issues as to biomechanical engineers. That case held such testimony was admissible. Call, or contact us for a free consult.

See the highlighted pages for a review of Virginia case law on admissibility of expert testimony and the qualifications of experts.

For more information on Personal Injury experts see the other pages on this site and also see the pages on Wikipedia.

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Contact Us For A Free Consultation

Personal Injury Experts

Fairfax Injury Lawyer Brien Roche Addresses Personal Injury Experts

Brien Roche

In personal injury cases it’s quite common that attorneys use an expert witness.  They may be used either by the plaintiff or the party being sued.  An expert witness is a witness who either by reason of education, training or work has some skill that she can use to explain something complex to the jury. The hope is this will allow the jury to better understand that complex issue.

Expert Witness Threshold

In using an expert witness there are several criteria that should be met before he will be able to testify:

  • Subject matter that the expert is going to address must not be within the common knowledge of the jury.
  • Must have the background to express expert opinions on the subject matter.
  • Subject matter must be recognized as not being what some people call “junk science”.
  • The testimony must be set forth in accord with the Rules of the Court. This means that it must be set forth when the court requires it. In addition it must be set forth with enough detail that the other side does not have to guess as to what the opinions are and what the bases for those opinions are.
  • When the witness testifies, she must be prepared to express opinions based upon a reasonable degree of probability. What may be possible is not good enough.
  • Finally the court may limit the number of experts.

Call, or contact us for a free consult.

Checking Out The Witness

In terms of checking out witnesses there are several things that you can do:

    Google

  • Do a Google name search using the connector term.  Your Google name search should be set up as follows “brien”AROUND(2)”roche”;
  • If you have a picture of the person then in the search bar click the camera icon and upload that picture;
  • To get a picture of a person, go to Google Images and conduct a search;
  • Set up a Google Alert as to the witness;
  • Go to Google Scholar at https://scholar.google.com to check out any articles cited or written by the person;
  • Go to Google Video at www.google.com/videohp to see if there is anything there on this witness;
  • Pacer

  • Go to the federal court search page at www.pacer.gov and use PACER Case Locator which will do a search of all federal courts.  On that page, use “find parties advanced”.  When you have found what you want on PACER, in order to get most of the documents for free, go to “Recap” or what is called www.courtlistener.com where you can get most of the PACER documents for free;
  • Public Sources

  • Go to the public library and 2 good databases AtoZReference and ReferenceUSA, both of which are good in terms of locating people;
  • If you have a Facebook page then go to your page and key in who it is you want to search for;
  • Whether you have a Twitter account or not, check out what they’re saying on Twitter at http://twitter.com/search-advanced;
  • If you have a Linkedin page and want to search whether or not the witness has a Linkedin page then go to your Linkedin account.  Using the search box in the top left side of the page, you can search for someone else.  Before you conduct any search, click the “me” drop-down menu in the upper right-hand corner and click on “settings” and “privacy”.  Click the privacy tab at the top of the screen and then click “profile viewing options”.  Chose “private mode” which leaves no trace of your identity;
  • To check out old websites of the person go to www.archive.org and use whatever web address you have for that person;
  • Submit a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to any state licensing boards if they have state licenses;
  •  Search the Defense Research Institute at www.dri.org to see if this person has spoken or presented to that organization;
  • Check the Virginia Supreme Court website for local courts where that person lives to see if there are any pending or past lawsuits involving that person;
  • Fee Sites

  • If you have access to the Lexis or Westlaw databases, then check those out;
  • Skip Smasher is a subscription background database available to private investigators.  At this site you can typically get a social security number.  In general with a social security number you can get a host of information on people.  Another fee-based site where you can get a social security number is www.tloxp.com;
  • Go to www.crimesmasher.com which is a publicly available site to do a criminal background check;
  • Check www.blackbookonline.info which can provide a wealth of free public records;
  • To check social media and news sites, go to the site called www.peekyou.com which searches 60 other sites;
  • www.opensecrets.org has tracked political contributions since 1990
  • Confirm the school background of the witness;

Brain Injury Cases

A frequent flier in brain injury cases are neuropsychologists. A neuropsychologist is a psychologist who tests people with purported brain injuries or other problems. The goal is to measure whether the injury shows itself in some subtle way. These subtle ways are memory loss, trouble counting or doing other math or not being able to maintain focus. In addition there are many other subtle signs that may point to a brain injury.

For instance in some cases such experts will claim that the plaintiff is faking.  This may be based on what are called malingering tests. Whether these tests are valid is a frequent battle ground. The questions that are part of this test give points for certain responses. To know what the points or answers mean you have to get all of the questions. With the questions and answers a proper analysis can be done. My own review of these questions has led me to believe the malingering tests are bogus.

Personal Injury Experts-Cross Examination

In terms of cross-examining defense personal injury experts as to the cause of a herniated disc the questioning can go as follows:

  • An auto crash can cause a herniated disc.
  • The plaintiff had a crash.
  • The plaintiff had immediate low back pain.
  • The MRI showed a herniated disc in the lower back.
  • Are you aware of any other event that occurred right before her symptoms began that is the more likely cause of her symptoms?

When the defense expert claims that the condition should have healed within six (6) months, ask the doctor the exact day, hour and minute that the condition in fact healed.  Certainly the defense attorney will object that the doctor is being asked to speculate.  That of course is the point. Call, or contact us for a free consult.

Personal Injury Experts-Federal

In federal courts the standard for expert testimony is that the art or science must permit a reasonable opinion to be stated. In other words the science must not be junk. The court will look at whether the theory or technique employed has been tested. How often has it been tested? What is the error rate of the tests? Has there been peer review? In addition the court will ask if the theory or technique is accepted in the relevant community?

The Daubert case sets forth these federal principles.

Personal Injury Experts-Biomechanical Engineers

Biomechanical engineers can be of great help in certain types of injury claims. Such an engineer is able to analyze the nature and extent of physical forces that are imposed on the body. He can explain how that can result in serious injury. Although these experts are not accident reconstruction experts they can testify that the crash occurred in a certain fashion. In addition they can explain the physical forces at work.

Finding Biomechanical Engineers

In terms of trying to find biomechanical engineers, excellent places to look are academic centers. In addition reviewing professional and scientific journals may be fruitful.  These journals will bring you current as to ideas bouncing around. They also will help to identify people in the forefront of this field. These people may be willing to assist with your case.  Furthermore finding an expert in this fashion also avoids the taint of using a search service for this purpose.

One of the early cases on the use of this type of testimony is Mannino v. International Manufacturing, 650 F.2d 846 (6thCir. 1981). This case addressed a number of evidentiary issues as to biomechanical engineers. That case held such testimony was admissible. Call, or contact us for a free consult.

See the highlighted pages for a review of Virginia case law on admissibility of expert testimony and the qualifications of experts.

For more information on Personal Injury experts see the other pages on this site and also see the pages on Wikipedia.

Contact Us For A Free Consultation

Contact Us For A Free Consultation