A safety expert witness is a person who is called to the witness stand in the course of a trial to provide professional expertise which may be relevant to the material at hand. Because expert witnesses are retained for the purpose of utilizing their training and experience, they are usually compensated for their time on the stand above and beyond the basic compensation such as mileage reimbursements offered to witnesses. There are a number of different types of trials in which a safety expert witness can be beneficial.
”Safety expert” is a rather broad umbrella term, and a safety expert witness may have expertise and training in a variety of fields. This can include equipment safety, building safety, electrical safety, sports safety, medical safety, child safety, and so forth. Safety experts may be qualified as engineers, consultants, and other members of the safety field. They are usually chosen on the basis of their credentials, experience, and qualifications and will be asked to talk about these things on the stand for the purpose of establishing credibility.
Lawyers may contact someone who is working as a safety expert and consultant to see if she or he is available to provide testimony. Safety expert witnesses can also be drawn from college and university faculty, safety teams working for individual companies, and so forth. Some people make full time careers out of serving as an expert witness, using ongoing publications and other credentials to ensure that they will be appealing as possible expert witnesses.
Both sides in a trial can call an expert witness. A safety expert witness might testify that the safety procedures observed in a given situation were reasonable and in accordance with industry standards, or might say just the opposite. The safety expert witness can also be asked to offer a professional opinion on the stand, such as: “In your opinion, did Company Xyz sufficiently investigate the safety of this product?” Both sides may call opposing witnesses if information is in dispute, and the opposition has the opportunity to cross examine expert witnesses as well.
Expert witnesses can be an important component of a trial. They are used to provide jurors with information which lawyers assume is not available to laypeople so that they can make a more informed choice when they deliberate on a verdict, and they can be used to present information which may support one side or the other.