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The Role of Expert Witnesses in Product Liability Cases in Florida

06/21/2023
Product Defect
BY

Product liability cases are some of the most complicated matters which arise in personal injury law. Such cases involve complicated issues regarding the design, manufacture, and foreseeable uses of products. A Plaintiff will in all likelihood be unable to prove their case at trial without the use of expert witnesses. It is, therefore, important to understand the role that experts play in a product liability trial.

Florida’s Rules of Evidence Require Expert Witnesses To Testify In Regard to Complex Matters

The rules of evidence require the use of experts for testimony which relates to issues involving specialized knowledge, skill, or training. No individual will be permitted to testify in relation to such issues unless they are first deemed an “expert” by the Court. The determination of whether or not someone is an expert is made outside the presence of the jury. A person can be an expert on the basis of education, work experience, etc. Each side will be given the opportunity to present expert testimony – meaning that the defense will have the right to offer experts whose opinions differ from those offered by the Plaintiff’s experts.

If a matter goes to trial then the jury will determine the level of weight, if any, that is to be given to an expert’s testimony. The jury may decide that one expert is more credible than the other. The jury may also decide that no value should be given to the testimony of either side’s experts. Finally, the jury may decide to accept part of an expert’s testimony while disregarding the remainder. The level of weight which the jury will give to a particular expert’s opinions will always depend on the specifics of the case.

Expert Witnesses Will Be Required To Establish Liability

Establishing a defendant’s fault in a product liability case will require you to show that a product was designed, manufactured, or marketed in a way which led to harm. The expert needed to prove fault in such a matter will depend on the theory of liability which is being pursued.

Using Expert Witnesses To Prove Faulty Design

If you are claiming that a product had a design flaw then it will be necessary to utilize an engineer, or other design professional, as an expert witness. Suppose, for example, that an electronic toy overheats and explodes in the hand of the child. This overheating was caused due to poor battery placement. An engineer who can testify in regard to the need for proper ventilation in the toy, to prevent overheating, can offer their opinions as to whether the toy was improperly designed.

Proving a Product Was Defectively Manufactured

It is possible to bring a product defect case if an item was manufactured in a way that did not live up to the manufacturers specifications and the error caused injury to an end user. Suppose a cell phone producer’s equipment is not calibrated properly and the back of the phones are secured tighter than what the design specifications called for. This causes the battery to overheat and explode. Under this set of facts, it may be necessary for the Plaintiff to retain an expert who can testify in regard to how the manufacturing equipment should have been calibrated as well as quality-assurance steps which should have been taken by the manufacturing company.

Proving a Product’s Marketing Was Defective

A product’s marketing is defective if it leads an end user to utilize the item in a way that was not intended by the designer. In this type of case, it may be necessary to retain marketing professionals as well as engineers to establish a) how the product was intended to be used and b) how the public could be expected to use the product in light of the marketing that was presented.

Expert Witnesses Will Often Be Required to Prove a Victim’s Damages

Proving the amount of wages a victim has lost to date is relatively straightforward. The same is true for the amount of medical costs they have incurred to date. Each of these is simply a matter of adding up the missed earnings and medical bills. Future lost wages and medical expenses, however, will require the use of expert witnesses. 

A medical expert will be required to establish the extent, if any, to which a victim can expect to recover from the injuries. The medical expert will also offer opinions as to the need for future care, future surgeries, and the amount of pain the victim can expect to endure. Based on these long-term medical projections, a vocational expert can offer testimony as to how much the victim can be expected to earn for the remainder of their life. This will be compared to the amount which they could have expected to earn had the injuries not occurred.

Presenting Expert Testimony to the Jury

It is important to remember that presenting expert testimony to jurors requires that the information be presented in a way that is easily digestible. Many experts tend to speak in technical and complex language. Retaining an attorney who is experienced in dealing with experts, and presenting such testimony is important to making sure that vital information is not “lost in translation.”

It is also important that your attorney be able to adequately cross-examine the defense’s expert witnesses. As stated above, the defense will be permitted to present their own expert testimony. If the jury finds these experts more believable than yours, then your case may suffer a negative outcome. This is why your attorney must be able to show that the defense experts should not be seen as credible.

Contact a Florida Product Liability Attorney Lawyer Today

If you have been harmed by a defective product then it is important to retain an experienced lawyer to assist you. Experienced counsel will be familiar with the steps involved in securing expert testimony and in presenting complex facts to the jury. Our firm is dedicated to protecting the rights of accident victims and we pride ourselves on providing quality service. Contact us online or at 800-780-8607 to speak with a Florida product liability attorney.

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