Being involved in an automobile accident is an overwhelming experience. Often, those involved suffer physical injuries, and it takes time and money to recover from them. Additionally, there is damage to the vehicle, which also costs money to fix. In the majority of automobile accidents, someone is at fault. Although the injured victim must bear these costs upfront, the possibility exists that he/she may be able to seek reimbursement from the person at fault. Retaining the services of an experienced personal injury attorney, and one especially versed in car accidents can be instrumental in receiving this reimbursement.
Part of this strategy is to determine whether expert witnesses should be used. Expert witnesses do provide a basis for establishing damages. Nevertheless, they are not appropriate in all situations, and the Illinois Supreme Court recently held that photographs of damage to automobiles which have been involved in an accident can be used at trial to combat a personal injury claim brought by an individual involved in the crash, without supplying expert analysis. In other words, a picture is worth a thousand words that an expert witness would provide in his/her opinion, and, as such, an expert witness is not necessary.
Negligence and Expert Witnesses
While negligence is the legal theory used to find liability in personal injury matters, Illinois follows a contributory negligence model, meaning if an injured plaintiff is partially at fault for his/her injuries, his/her recovery will be reduced by that amount. As an example, in a two-car accident, if the plaintiff is determined to be 30 percent at fault (meaning the other driver was 70 percent at fault), and the damage awarded by the jury was $100,000, the plaintiff will only be able to recover $70,000. Further, in Illinois, if it is determined that the plaintiff is greater than 50 percent at fault, then recovery of any money is prohibited.