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What is a Damages Expert Witness?

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  • Written By: Christopher John
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 25 November 2016
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A damages expert witness is a person that has special knowledge and skill in calculating damages, i.e., money as compensation for a loss or injury. To recover damages, it is necessary for a plaintiff, i.e., the party filing a lawsuit, to prove damages. Sometimes the amount or extent of damages is difficult to prove, so it becomes necessary for a plaintiff to hire a damages expert witness. A person qualified to testify as a damages expert witness, who may be an accountant, physician, or someone with expertise in another specific field, can help determine the amount of money necessary to compensate the plaintiff. 

A lawyer will generally hire a damages expert witness to help analyze complex information. The expert will then provide testimony concerning such analysis. For instance, it may be necessary to examine documents from a business to determine how much profits were lost due to an interruption in the operation of the business. The damages expert witness can analyze financial information and tax records and compute such losses. The expert can then testify in court about how he or she conducted the evaluation and explain why the plaintiff is entitled to a specified amount of money. Similarly, an expert may examine life expectancy tables, income projections, and other factors to determine economic losses for a person seriously hurt in a car accident or in another physical injury.

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A damages expert witness can also help a lawyer prepare for a case. The expert can help a lawyer by advising the lawyer to ask for specific types of documentation from an opposing party during discovery. The discovery process is an opportunity for each side in a lawsuit to obtain information from the opposing party. An expert can help a lawyer obtain key information from an opposing party and analyze such information to assess damages. 

Economic research and valuation of damages is sometimes needed in cases that are industry specific. For instance, a credit reporting company might commit an error by reporting false and inaccurate information about a specific consumer. This may result in that person suffering damages through a denial of credit. A credit damages expert witness can help a lawyer by providing specialized information concerning the extent of damages in this type of case. 

A damages expert witness can also help in assessing damages for personal injuries. For instance, if a professional piano player is in a car accident and suffers a hand injury, that person may be entitled to a greater amount of damages than a person with the same type of physical injury who has less reliance on his or her hands to generate income to that extent. The expert can assess the amount of damages specifically based upon the work life of a professional piano player.

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