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How Do Expert Witnesses Help Car Accident Cases?

January 15, 2024

A car accident is an alarming experience with serious consequences for a victim’s health and ability to work and accomplish their daily routines. All too often, the distress of a car accident continues even as an injury victim begins their physical recovery. Medical bills begin rolling in at the same time they may not yet be cleared to return to work.

Some car accident victims suffer a disabling injury and may not be able to return to work at all. If that is the case for you, call our Seattle catastrophic injury attorneys at Fang Law Firm. A successful car accident claim in Washington can recover common losses—known as the victim’s “damages” in a personal injury claim. Often, a car accident claim requires expert witnesses to help prove the at-fault party’s liability as well as the consequences of the injury to the victim.

how do expert witnesses help in car accident cases in seattle

How Does a Car Accident Claim Work in Washington?

Washington is one of many states with a fault-based insurance system that requires those making car accident claims to recover damages to prove the other driver at fault for the accident. In some cases, fault may lie with another party like a negligent road maintenance agency or the maker of a defective auto part. 

The state’s pure comparative negligence laws allow even drivers who were partly at fault for the accident to recover a portion of their damages. The amount they can recover in their claim is minus their percentage of fault. For instance, in a claim for $100,000 in damages, if a driver was 10% at fault for the accident, they’ll recover $90,000. But before an injury victim can recover damages, they have the burden of proving that the other driver—or negligent road crew or auto part manufacturer—was at fault, or mostly at fault for the accident. 

Proving fault in a car accident case requires a thorough investigation both by the insurance company faced with the claim, and also by the attorney of the accident victim. The accident victim’s claim must prove the negligent action of the at-fault party caused the accident by breaching the general duty of care drivers have for others on the road. Then the evidence must show that the breach of duty directly caused the accident and injuries and that the injury victim suffered significant damages from the injury. 

A thorough investigation to prove fault examines the police report, any photos or videos, eyewitness testimony, and the victim’s medical report. Proving fault and damages often require the testimony of expert witnesses.

Expert Witnesses in Car Accident Cases

Expert witnesses in car accident claims aren’t typically those close to the victim or personal witnesses to the accident, but instead, they’re called to testify due to specialized knowledge in an area relevant to the claim. Common expert witnesses in car accident cases include:

  • Accident reconstruction experts: These experts specialize in using investigative research, computer models, and physical models to reconstruct the circumstances of an accident or injury. They’re crucial in car accident cases not captured on video or with photographic evidence. Car accident reconstruction experts create computer models using available evidence to recreate the accident
  • Medical experts: Medical experts testify to the impacts of the injury on the victim’s life, including the amount of pain they’re likely to experience until they reach maximum recovery, and whether or not the injury causes significant disability. They may also present testimony about the estimated cost of past and future medical care to treat the injury
  • Technical experts: some cases require technical experts such as mechanical engineers to demonstrate how a defective car part caused an accident
  • Financial experts may show the impacts of the injury on the victim’s financial situation

A car accident attorney in Seattle carefully prepares each witness for testimony in a trial if it becomes necessary to resolve a claim. In many cases, deposing expert witnesses in a car accident case and providing their depositions in a demand package to the insurance company of the defendant is enough evidence to secure an ample out-of-court settlement to recover compensation for the car accident victim’s damages.


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