The Role of Economic Experts in Civil Litigation

Imagine that you are in an auto accident that is ruled to be the fault of the other driver. As a result of that accident, you obtained a traumatic head injury which has led to the loss of physical and mental capabilities on which you depend for your employment. Your doctors have agreed that you will see no improvement and that your current employment prospects are now no better than minimum wage earning.

If that sounds terrifying, it should. However, a key player in civil litigation may be able to testify on your behalf and help you to obtain damages from the other driver’s insurance company covering the difference between your current employment situation and your future expected employment opportunities.

“That is basically what a forensic economic expert’s testimony can do,” says a forensic economic expert at Sobel Tinari Economics Group. “We testify on all the losses that a plaintiff, and by extension, their families, are expected to endure.”

While a good personal injury or class-action attorney will have their own experts to testify in such cases, so the defense will also have their own. In some high-profile cases, the judge may appoint a neutral economics expert pursuant to Rule 706 of the Federal Rules of Evidence.

In fact, most economics experts need not have direct contact with the plaintiff or their families at all. The economic expert can typically read the reports of medical professionals combines with those of vocational and life-care planning experts and form an educated analysis of projected losses.

While personal injury and class-action litigation can almost certainly benefit from the expert testimony of an economic analysis, so can other kinds of civil litigation.

Take, for example, the case of an Elizabeth, New Jersey firefighter. The fire fighter noticed violations of fire-safety codes and reported them to his superiors. His superiors then would make an abatement. When he questioned the abatements, he became the subject of racial harassment that led to his early retirement. After the testimony of an economic expert, the firefighter was awarded $2,075,000.

In a personal injury case, a woman was riding in a rented minivan being driven by her friend. The friend lost control of the vehicle and drove over the centerline, becoming involved in a head-on accident with another vehicle. It was later discovered that the driver suffers from a medical condition that causes lapses in consciousness. As a result of the accident, she suffered from a concussion and a spinal fracture. Expert medical testimony described that she would subsequently suffer a gradual loss of her ambulatory abilities. As a result, after the economic expert’s testimony, the jury awarded her $71,000,000 for past and future medical expenses.

The inclusion of expert forensic economic testimony has had a positive effect in many cases. They provide invaluable testimony on current and future economic losses that a plaintiff will suffer as a result of personal injury.

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn't know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.