Most every serious personal injury case, will have at least one expert witness testifying for the plaintiff – if only a physician, explaining the extent of the plaintiff’s injuries. Medical malpractice plaintiffs must have an expert to testify to the defendant’s deviation from acceptable standards of medical care. Expert testimony gets really interesting, when the cause of an event is in question. I am sure that some jurors are skeptical when they see two hugely qualified experts, arriving at diametrically opposed conclusions.
The plaintiff’s expert testifies that her nerve damage was caused by the impact when the truck hit her car. Defendant’s expert concludes that her nerve damage was due to pre-existing disc problems, revealed in her medical records. Often, a skilled plaintiff’s attorney knows that he will not get the defendant’s expert to change his opinion, and focuses his cross-examination on eliciting points of agreement. If the defendant’s expert concedes that a certain level and type of trauma can cause nerve damage of the type suffered by the plaintiff, and plaintiff’s other experts testify that such trauma is exactly what occurred, important points will have been earned. Dramatic cross-exams happen, on television always, and sometimes in court. Many effective cross-examinations are quiet and subtle, the significance brought home to the jury on closing argument.