Evidence - Expert Witnesses

Certain witnesses are allowed to testify in certain cases on matters which the judge or jury may not be able to understand clearly. Small Claims Courts have a means for allowing certain witnesses to come to court and testify about certain evidence, just as in regular court. These witnesses are often called expert witnesses.

The purpose of experts is to testify about facts which a judge or jury may not understand. For example, if a mechanic did not fix a radiator properly, how do we know? We can all tell if the radiator is fixed or if it is not. [since we can see the water running out or the car overheating] But just because a car radiator leak is fixed and then it leaks a week later, does not mean the work was defective. It may simply be another leak unrelated to the first. A mechanic can come to court and show the court that it is his/her opinion that the second leak was either related to, or unrelated to, the first leak. Obviously, this type of testimony can be critical in establishing any wrongdoing of the defendant.

Whenever you have a case concerning an area which is difficult to explain, you may want to talk to certain persons familiar with that field to see if you have a case. If they believe you do and they are an expert in that field, you may ask them to come to court to give their opinion.

Two things - First, be sure to objectively explain the facts to your expert [if you give them just your argument and you forget to mention a critical fact, and they come to court and that fact arises in court, it may change their whole opinion.]

Second, be sure they are an expert in their field. Be sure they have experience in dealing with the subject matter in the lawsuit.

Do not over-use the expert however. For example, you do not need a cotton manufacturer to tell the judge the shirt was ripped. However, you may need such a person to state that the shirt would not have ripped unless the dry cleaner put a certain chemical on it.

Point to Remember:

  • Use an expert witness, if necessary, and if costs permit.
Posted in: Small Claims