What Is An “Expert” In The Legal Sense And How Do They Help Your Case?
Posted on 16th March 2020
When approaching a solicitor for legal advice and representation, we all expect the solicitor to be an “expert”. Whilst solicitors, like those at MG Legal, your solicitors in Garstang, are experts, they are experts in law, their specialist field and often, whilst qualified to practise in any type, solicitors will stick to one or two areas of law; it is worthy of note, that your local personal injury solicitor, will, most probably anyway, not be a family law specialist. Whilst not always required, many cases do require an “expert” to provide evidence in their specialist field. Without delving too deeply into the Civil Procedure Rules, expert evidence is governed under Part 35 of these Rules. Under Part 35, an expert should:
• Be independent and unbiased
• Remain objective
• Consider all the facts, positive and negative
• Only report on matters that fall within their expertise
• Not advocate for either party
• Have an overriding duty to the Court
By following these basic principles, an expert will provide evidence that assists with a case, whether proving the Claimant’s case or strengthening the Defendant’s rejection of a case. Experts, or expert witnesses, as they are often called, are often called upon by our solicitors in Lancaster to assist with the matter in hand.
What type of experts might I need?
The most commonly used experts are medical experts for personal injury cases, motor engineers for vehicle damage, vocational experts to assess a person’s chance of returning to work, financial experts and forensic accountants for lost earnings or lost chance claims and parenting experts for family cases. There is, in truth, no real limit on who can be an expert as long as they are suitability qualified in their field, although the probability of requiring experts in certain matters is unusual. MG Legal, your local solicitor in Lancaster, sources experts directly rather than via an agency and so we approach the correct expert and vet them individually, on a case-by-case basis to ensure their expertise is correct for each case.
Can my opponent use expert evidence too?
Yes, in order to allow parity between the parties, your opponent may use their own expert evidence, usually of a similar field and sometimes, the second party to obtain evidence will go one ‘step’ up the ladder of expertise. So, if one personal injury solicitor has obtained a GP’s report for a personal injury matter, the second party, in the hope that the more prestigious Orthopaedic Surgeon will provide a second opinion that is less favourable to the Defendant. As an independent expert, the Orthopaedic Surgeon will have to produce their report impartially and so, the party paying for that report will be taking a chance that the report does help them.
Is there a limit on the number of experts you can use?
The short answer is yes, although this is assessed on a case-by-case basis. Each expert will charge a fee and so, a party can only generally recover one fee per discipline of expert. So, if an expert produces an unfavourable report, or one that the client does not agree with, it is not simply possible to keep obtaining report until a favourable one is produced. Each solicitor, including MG Legal, your solicitors in Lancaster, will advise on the content of each report and ultimately, if it appears that the expert is correct, their report will generally stand and so, whilst a second opinion is obtainable, if this produces the same opinion, you will not be able to recover the cost of both reports.
Often, in more complex cases, the Court will hear arguments from both parties and if they cannot agree on the experts to utilise, the Court will decide on the experts and at points, the name of the expert also.
What if experts disagree?
If both parties have expert evidence, from the same discipline of expert, but which do not agree, it is usual for either a joint statement or a “statement of issues” to be produced to detail to both parties, their solicitors and to the Court, where the areas of agreement and disagreement are. Sometimes, the areas of disagreement will be dependent upon what the Court find in the parties’ evidence, meaning the Court can then decide on the expert’s findings based on this. For example, the expert’s might say “if the Court find that the Claimant was moved within the vehicle by a collision, then injury could have been sustained”. So, it is for the Court to decide, based on what is said in witness evidence, if there was occupancy movement and so, if there was injury. Sometimes, this is not the case and experts simply disagree because they have a difference of opinion. In these cases, which are relatively rare, the experts can be called to give evidence at Trial, explaining their reasoning and along with the other evidence in the case, the Court will decide on the outcome.
Do I need to find my own expert?
In short, no, usually MG Legal, your solicitors in Lancaster, will locate and instruct an expert for you, mainly because this is something that fall to your solicitor to do; we have the expertise to identify the correct expert, agree a fair price, provide the best instruction to ensure the full evidence is available to support your case and to ensure that the expert upholds their duty to the Court. On occasion, clients do select their own expert (one client wished to instruct a surgeon of their own choice and opted for one who had treated Premier League footballers), however, as they must be independent and unbiased you cannot choose your friend if they are a doctor, for example.
Where to start?
Whatever the reason that you might need expert evidence, it is certain that you will need expert representation and this is where MG Legal, expert personal injury solicitors in Lancaster, come in. We have specialists in Personal Injury, Conveyancing and Property, Family and Children matters and Powers of Attorney, Wills and Probate. We have offices in Garstang, Longridge and Lancaster and we are happy to hear from you by phone, email, web-contact form or in person by calling into any of the offices. We aim to accept all personal injury claims on a Conditional Fee Agreement (no win, no fee agreement) basis and many other instructions are available on a fixed fee basis. Contact us today and we will put you in touch with the right department and we will get the ball rolling the same day.
MG Legal - Your Local Solicitors
Tagged as: Accident Injury Solicitors, Family Solicitors Lancaster, Lancaster Personal Injury Law, Your Local Solicitors
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