The Importance of Expert Witnesses in Your Oregon Catastrophic Injury Case

People whose sole (or primary) source of information about the civil justice system is courtroom drama TV shows likely presume that cases are 100% won or lost at trial. In reality, what leads to success in your major injury case often happens well before the trial even begins. That’s because developing the strongest possible case involves many facets, including proper pretrial procedural steps, and that’s why the odds of getting justice are enhanced by retaining a knowledgeable Oregon injury lawyer.

A recent injury case from the federal District Court in Eugene is a good example. The huge “win” the injured plaintiff received was not regarding some factual or legal issue, but rather the use of expert witnesses.

Expert witnesses can be a major element of a successful case. Say, for example, you suffered a catastrophic injury with permanent paralysis at work due to the negligence of a third party (i.e., not your employer.) Your injuries mean a lifetime of medical treatment, rehab, pain, anguish, mental distress, and never being able to work again.

To get a just result, you might need to pursue an industrial accident lawsuit and to use expert evidence that informs the court just how harmful your accident was, how much you’ve lost, and how much more you’ll lose in the future because of your injuries. This kind of case reasonably could include medical experts, economic/vocational/industry experts, and perhaps others.

Subsection 26(a)(2)(B) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure says that parties seeking to use experts must provide the opposition with the identity of each expert, as well as “a written report prepared and signed by the witness,” by a specific deadline. Additionally, if the expert is serving as a rebuttal witness, the party seeking to use him/her must file a rebuttal report, with Subsection 26(a)(2)(C) laying out the deadline for doing that.

In the Eugene case, the court set a Dec. 15, 2022, deadline for submitting expert reports and a Jan. 15, 2023, deadline for disclosing rebuttal reports. The defense submitted two reports after the deadline, so the injured man’s legal team sought to exclude the evidence those two experts would have provided.

The Harm an Opposing Party’s Delay Can Cause

When making such a request to the court, you must identify the harm that the other side’s failure has caused you, as a “harmless” violation of the deadline may not trigger the exclusion of the expert(s) in question. Often, an opponent’s failure may harm your case by impairing your chance to determine your need for your own rebuttal expert(s) and, if needed, to obtain and disclose such an expert.

When you establish the missed deadline wasn’t harmless, then you can — as the injured man in the Eugene case did — obtain a court order that excludes the non-compliant expert(s)’ evidence entirely.

This can make a massive difference. Returning to our hypothetical above, a catastrophic injury case can readily involve millions of dollars, meaning that the inclusion or exclusion of one or more experts easily could alter the final outcome by hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more.)

This why ensuring complete compliance with the rules — and taking appropriate action when the opposing side doesn’t comply — can make a huge difference in your outcome. If you’ve endured severe harm due to someone else’s negligence or recklessness, the Oregon catastrophic injury attorneys at Kaplan Law LLC are here to provide you with answers to your legal questions. Call us today at (503) 226-3844 or contact us online to set up your free consultation.

50 SW Pine St 3rd Floor Portland, OR 97204 Telephone: (503) 226-3844 Fax: (503) 943-6670 Email:
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