What Qualifies Someone as an Expert Witness?

In the courtroom, many regulations rule the proceedings. Both before, during and after a trial, the actions and reactions of the attorneys are dictated by rules and procedures. Witnesses are key components in litigation and aren’t just people who might have seen the events in question. Expert witnesses are called in to give testimony about underlying pieces of a case. Sometimes they may be called to talk about a person’s mental state, a process that was or was not followed or scientific data. Regardless, the testimony of an expert can make or break a case. What qualifies a person as an expert?

1. An Expert Must Form an Opinion

While it seems silly to think about sharing views, in the case of expert witness testimony, the opinion is the bread and butter of the process. An expert witness, unlike other witnesses, must be able to provide a drawn conclusion, in advance of testifying in the courtroom. The opinion is disclosed to the other side and the court through court filings. If it is not, the testimony in court may not qualify as an expert.

2. An Expert Must Prove Standing

An expert needs to be able to prove that they have the qualifications to endorse what they have to say. They will put together a curriculum vitae which details education and work experience as well as articles published and prior testimony rendered. If the court does not believe the expert qualifies in the field they are testifying in, their conclusions may get thrown out.

3. An Expert Must Utilize Relevant Data

When testifying in a case about road construction, an expert not only needs to be qualified to do so but also needs to cite the data and resources used to form the opinion. If the judge does not find that the method and material used by the expert in rendering their viewpoint, it may be disqualified.

Expert witnesses are useful tools throughout a litigation proceeding. They can support your case and discredit the other. Knowing how to differentiate an expert from a lay witness is crucial in trials.