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expert witnesses

Types of Witnesses Involved in Personal Injury Cases

Personal injury cases are complex and can involve both expert and lay witnesses. These people will help to prove your case and corroborate your claims. Depending on the details of your case and the specifics of your claim, you may have a few or many witnesses, just laypeople or only experts, or both. Let's look at how the different types of witnesses help you prove a case. Lay Witnesses Negligence cases are proven by showing that someone who owed you a duty of care breached that duty and caused your injury, resulting in compensable damages. That means you as the plaintiff must establish what happened. One way you do that is by gathering evidence from anyone who was at the scene of the incident in question. Lay witnesses are people who have no particular expertise associated with the claim other than the fact they saw something relevant, whether at the scene of the incident or with respect to your injury and treatment. There are two types of lay witnesses that you might employ in a negligence case -- witnesses who saw what happened can testify about the accident and those who know you personally and observed you while injured can discuss that. The testimony of these two types of witnesses provides added support to the things you say. Expert Witnesses There are different types of expert witnesses, too. Depending on the type of case, you may need an expert to talk about engineering, or medicine, or the climate, or soil erosion or pretty much any other complex topic that is implicated in the case. Courts must certify a witness as an expert and who qualifies, as well as the procedure, is dictated by the rules of evidence. Most often, although not exclusively, the experts called upon in negligence cases are doctors, and they testify about the extent of injury, the appropriate treatment now and in the future, and more. Expert witnesses can be quite expensive, charging not only to compile reports that support your claim but also to come in to court and testify in person. But that doesn't mean you don't need them. Talk to a Lawyer If you were injured speak to a lawyer. Tell your story and let counsel worry about what witnesses to call and even how to pay them. Many personal injury attorneys consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to discuss your situation, and many also take cases on contingency which means you will only pay legal fees if you recover damages. Get help. Related Resources: Have an injury claim? Get your claim reviewed for free. (Consumer Injury) What Is a Subpoena? (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) In the Courtroom: Who Does What? (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) Do's and Don'ts -- Being a Witness (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) What Happens at Trial? (FindLaw's Learn About
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Joan Rivers and Alleged Medical Malpractice: 3 Things to Know

Comedian Joan Rivers' death was the result of medical malpractice, her daughter claims in a lawsuit. What can consumers learn from this pending case? As you may recall, Joan Rivers underwent a procedure to remove a growth from her vocal cords last summer. She suffered cardiac and respiratory arrest during surgery and was rushed to a hospital; Melissa Rivers later decided to remove her mother from life support. But according to Melissa's lawsuit, Joan Rivers' death can be blamed on doctors and the New York City clinic where her procedure was performed. Here are three legal facts about medical malpractice cases to keep in mind as this lawsuit proceeds: 1. The Lawsuit Does Not Specify the Amount of Damages. Lawsuits often seek a specific dollar amount in terms of damages, but Melissa Rivers' lawsuit does not. Under the laws of New York, where the suit was filed, lawsuits alleging personal injury or wrongful death are not allowed to state an amount for damages. This allows a jury to come up with an amount on its own, without being influenced by what the plaintiff feels he or she deserves. Other states have similar laws about specifying damages in these types of cases. 2. What Counts as Malpractice? Many medical errors can be considered malpractice, including wrong-site surgeries and retained foreign objects (i.e., sponges left inside a patient). But these cases all assert that a medical professional breached his or her duty to a patient by failing to act as a reasonable professional would. In Melissa Rivers' lawsuit, she names the Yorkville Endoscopy Center and five physicians, including her mother's personal doctor Gwen Korovin, as defendants, Reuters reports. The doctors failed to recognize Joan Rivers' declining vital signs, performed a procedure that Rivers had not consented to, and were slow in calling 911, the suit asserts. The suit also calls out one doctor for allegedly taking a "selfie" with Joan Rivers while she underwent the procedures. 3. The Case May Come Down to a 'Battle of the Experts.' If the case goes to trial, the question of malpractice may come down to a "battle of the experts." That's when both sides present dueling expert witnesses to testify about how a "reasonable" medical professional would have acted in a similar situation. As you can see, there are a lot of legal factors to consider in a medical malpractice lawsuit. To lean more, check out FindLaw's section on Medical Malpractice or contact an experienced attorney to review your case. Related Resources: Have an injury claim? Get your claim reviewed for free. (Consumer Injury) 5 Signs You May Need a Medical Malpractice Attorney (FindLaw's Injured) Joan Rivers' Estate Plan: $150M to Daughter, Grandson, Dogs (FindLaw's Celebrity Justice) Joan Rivers' Death: 3 Legal Facts About Life Support (FindLaw's Celebrity Justice)
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