Expert witnesses differ from lay or “normal” witnesses in that they possess the privilege to express their opinions on matters within their field of expertise. While lay witnesses are restricted to recounting facts based on what they observed or heard, expert witnesses are permitted to provide their informed viewpoints.
According to Colorado Rules of Evidence 702, Expert witnesses are individuals deemed qualified due to their knowledge, skill, expertise, training, or education, and are therefore permitted to present opinions or information in various forms. The spectrum of expert witnesses can vary from one case to another, encompassing an array of professionals. These could range from medical practitioners treating the patient, engineers offering technical insights, to even specialists like a brake technician, depending on the context of the case.
For instance, consider a scenario involving a bicycle accident where the injured party received an MRI and CT scan, both of which displayed no apparent damage. In this situation, I encountered a neuroradiologist as a suitable expert witness. This specific neuroradiologist, based in Las Vegas, holds expertise in evaluating boxers for signs of excessive brain damage, a skill necessitated by their sport. This expert evaluated my client’s condition and identified a crucial detail that the previous scans had missed—the need for a more powerful MRI, specifically a 3 Tesla or a 1.5 Tesla MRI. This specialized scan revealed distinctive red dots known as Coup-Contracoup Shearing. Without the expertise of this specialist, detecting such an issue through standard MRI or CT scans would have remained elusive. This case underscores the significance of selecting the most appropriate expert witness for the unique demands of each case.
In summary, expert witnesses offer a distinctive advantage in legal proceedings due to their capability to furnish well-informed opinions. This contrast with lay witnesses who are limited to recounting facts. The selection of an appropriate expert witness can significantly impact the depth and accuracy of the information presented in court, which is particularly evident in cases where nuanced, specialized insights are required for a comprehensive understanding of the matter at hand.