n our prior post, we went over some of the basics regarding why and when you might need an expert witness. In this post, we’ll address some of the specifics concerning expert witnesses, including the important role attorneys play in making sure your expert witness is allowed to testify in court.
Georgia Law on Expert Witnesses
Generally speaking, an expert witness is someone who has a certain level of expertise in the subject matter at issue a case before the court. Georgia law, however, has specific requirements for someone to be considered an expert witness and allowed to testify as to their opinion in your case. In the event that specialized knowledge is required to prove your case, your witness will need to meet the following requirements to qualify as an expert witness:
- There are sufficient facts or data that would allow the witness to form an opinion;
- The testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods; and
- Those principles and methods have been appropriately applied to the facts of the case.
If the case involves some sort of professional malpractice, the expert must have been licensed by the pertinent regulatory agency at the time. If the case involves medical malpractice, the requirements become even more specific:
- The witness must have “actual professional knowledge and experience in the area of practice of specialty” at issue in the case;
- The witness must have been actively practicing in that area for three of the last five years; or
- The witness has been teaching in that area of expertise for three of the last five years.
The statute goes on to provide a number of other specifications, but it’s fair to summarize them by saying that, in order to testify, your witness must be a practicing physician in that specific field.
The Role of the Judge and Legal Counsel
Interestingly, the statute arguably places the judge in the role of determining whether or not a witness can ultimately be qualified as an expert. Typically, the jury gets to decide whether or not a witness is credible. In the context of expert witnesses, the judge can prevent the jury from ever hearing their testimony.
As a result, it is critical that your attorney select an expert with the necessary qualifications. In addition, your attorney must also persuade the judge that your witness is, in fact, an expert in the field in question and meets all of the statutory requirements. As part of this process, your attorney can request a pre-trial hearing pursuant to Georgia law in order to determine whether your witness qualifies as an expert. That way, you can proceed to trial knowing whether you have the testimony you need to prove your case.
Slappey & Sadd: Georgia Personal Injury Lawyers Helping You Put on Your Best Case
If you’ve been injured in an accident, you need to be prepared for the fact that the other side will argue that your claim isn’t credible. In order to rebut that argument, you need an attorney who can find the right expert witnesses you need to support your claim. The attorneys at Slappey & Sadd have been helping injured people across the state of Georgia since 1992, and we can help you build the right case to get the compensation you deserve. Call us at 888-474-9616 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.