DIFFERENT TYPES OF EXPERT WITNESS, SCOPE AND FUNCTIONS
To appreciate the different types of expert witnesses, we need first of all to know who an expert witness is. An expert witness is a person qualified , specialized ,experienced, advanced or knowledgeable in a particular field, either medical field, accounting field, etc being invited to court to give an expert unbiased and disinterested opinion on his area of expertise based on the information made available to him.
An expert witness coming to court to testify can either be a party appointed expert witness or a single joint expert witness.
There are generally different types of expert witness;
- MEDICAL EXPERT WITNESS-: Medical expert witness seem to be the most common type of expert witness. These are experts from different medical fields. They are invited to provide professional medical expert opinion in cases of medical malpractice, medical violent crime trial or in any other trial where medical expert opinion is needed like rape cases etc depending on the witness’ area of specialization. Often times medical doctors do this work of medical expert witness, however sometimes nurses, physician’s assistants,laboratory assistants and other medical experts also do same.
- ACCOUNTING AND SECURITIES EXPERT WITNESSES-: These expert witnesses provide expert opinion on more complex matters dealing on white collar crime and fraud. Aside crimes, they also advise courts on when a particular company falls short of their duties and obligations to their customers. They also come in when banks engage in crimes, faruds and misappropriation and mismanagement of customers’ money and when they fail in their banker/customer relationships.
- FORENSIC EXPERT WITNESS:- Forensic science is the application of science to criminal and civil laws, especially on criminal aspects during investigations as governed by legal standards of admissible evidence and criminal procedure. Inasmuch as there seem to being an overlap in the fuction of medical and forensic experts, forensic experts ranges from biologists, chemists, psychologists etc. Forensic experts are usually employed by most law enforcement agencies to provide expert opinions and also testify in court when need arise.
- VOCATIONAL EXPERT WITNESS:- These experts are called by the social security administration when someone petition a denial of social security disability benefits. On normal circumstance, the social securities administration always deny benefits to the disabled individuals on the ground that they cannot work. If the disabled individual then petitions that he can work despite his or her disability, the vocational experts are invited to give expert opinion as to whether such disabled individual can work. It should be noted that unlike other experts that need to have a special knowledge and training, vocational expert witnesses do not need to have any special qualification or training to hold the job. This always make lawyers to treat them with suspicion.
- MENTAL HEALTH EXPERT WITNESS:- These are very similar to medical experts. However mental health experts are invited to give expert opinion as to the mental fitness or otherwise of a suspect in a trial.
Knowledge of the different types of expert witness, scope and function is useful in knowing which particular expert to invite in cases where an expert opinion is needed.
In our next topic, we shall be discussing expert witness salary to enable us understand how much an expert witness earns, who pays and who fixes the charge.