The Need for a Traffic Expert Witness
Traffic expert witnesses are professional witnesses who use their vast array of knowledge and skills related to traffic laws to provide expert testimony in court. These witnesses can play an essential role in a legal case by helping both the client’s attorney, as well as the jury, better understand the issue at hand.
Understanding Traffic Laws and Regulations
Federal Traffic Regulations
Most traffic regulations are created and overseen by each state government, but there is still some federal oversight necessary to keep traffic safe and smooth throughout the country. This includes keeping things uniform with things like what side of the road people drive on or how traffic signs are obeyed. To keep highways safe, the United States Department of Transportation collaborates with all local and state governments on any important matters regarding roadways.
State and Local Traffic Ordinances
Though most laws and ordinances are alike across the country, it’s at the state and local levels that traffic is closely regulated. These governments can pass laws and create customizations. It’s important, however, that they respect the uniformity of overall regulations in the country.
Importance of Expertise in Specific Areas
Traffic safety experts need to be able to provide specialized information because it bolsters their credibility. It also helps the judge and jury better understand the intricacies of a case so that they can make well-informed decisions.
Identifying the Need for a Traffic Expert Witness
If you ever find yourself involved in litigation that deals with traffic – including things like regulations, construction, and accidents – then you most likely need a traffic expert witness. This is especially true if you’re going to need an expert’s guidance in building your case or need expert testimony.
How Traffic Expert Witnesses Enhance a Legal Team
A legal team can be enhanced by a traffic expert even before it’s time for them to share testimony. They can help the lawyers on the team understand complex traffic issues so they can better explain them to the jury.
Recognizing When an Expert Is Essential
Traffic expert witnesses can objectively analyze and make conclusions about your case. This objectivity makes their testimony stronger against the defense’s argument, winning over the jury with their unbiased expert opinions.
Finding Potential Traffic Expert Witnesses
Choosing the right traffic expert witness is guaranteed to positively impact your legal case. Your attorney should be able to help you find a traffic expert witness from a list of experts they’ve worked with in the past. You can also look through the Department of Transportation databases for experts by state and category. You’ll want to let yourself be choosy with whom you decide to work with, as they’re key to your case.
Examining Credentials and Certifications
Reviewing Past Testimonies and Case Histories
When you’re searching for a traffic expert who will best fit your needs, you’ll want to look at their credentials and certifications first. If those fit with what you’re looking for, the next step is to review past expert witness testimonies the person has provided and the history of those cases. It’s also a good idea to speak with people they’ve previously worked with. Ideally, you can speak with both past clients and their professional colleagues to get a sense of their work style and reliability.
Assessing Communication Skills and Professionalism
An expert traffic witness needs to coherently and simply explain complex issues so that all involved in the case can understand the details of the case and make the best decisions. This requires the witness to have excellent communication skills while also being able to maintain their professionalism, so their credibility remains intact.
Conducting Interviews and Meetings
It’s important that you meet with your possible expert witness in person and conduct a thorough interview. This not only allows you to evaluate their expertise and skills, but it also allows you to connect with them on a more personal level and get a sense of how they’ll come across on the witness stand. You’ll also want to take the time to ensure that their thoughts will align with your case.
Preparing for Interviews
Key Questions to Ask
There are a few key questions you’ll want to ask when you’re interviewing your candidates. As you’ll already have things like their education and background on paper before meeting with them, don’t waste a lot of time asking questions about those details. Instead, ask questions to help you put the candidate’s qualifications and experience in a larger context to help you with your case. The following are just a few questions you’ll want to ensure you get answered:
- What special areas of traffic do you feel you can provide the best expertise in?
- What is your preferred way of analyzing traffic incidents?
- Can you give an example of a time you needed to explain a very complex, technical concept to a jury or judge? How did you do so?
- What sets you apart from other candidates we are interviewing?
Assessing the Witness’s Compatibility with Your Case
While interviewing, you’ll also want to ask some questions that are more relevant to your current case or situation. You can ask if the candidate has worked on cases similar to yours, and if so, ask them for any details they’re able to share. You’ll also want to cover any possible issues with conflict of interest as well.
Negotiating Fees and Contracts
During the interview, you’ll want to discuss the candidate’s fee structure and how they handle contracts. Their current and future availability as well as the level of commitment they’re able to give you are also important things to discuss. If you have a strict timeline, you’ll want to ensure they can adhere to it and that it won’t cost you too much for them to do so.
Providing Necessary Documents and Evidence
Your expert witness must have all of the necessary information they need to understand your case the best they can. You’ll need to provide them with all documentation and evidence, as well as any other information that may be relevant. The last thing you want is for them to have a gap in their knowledge, especially when it’s time for cross-examination.
Conducting Mock Trials and Preparations
It’s always a good idea to prepare your traffic witness expert with mock trials that include both examination and cross-examination. Even if your expert has provided testimony in the past, it’s important they specifically prepare for the circumstances related to your case.
Ensuring Alignment with Legal Strategy
During this time of sharing information and preparing, you’ll also want to ensure that your witness aligns with your legal strategy. Everyone on your legal team needs to be on the same page before ever entering into a legal proceeding.
While you want your witness to be aligned with your strategy, it’s important to keep ethical considerations in mind. If your witness can’t provide an unbiased, professional opinion then they aren’t who you want working with you. This is true even if their unethical opinion favors your case as it leaves the door wide open for cross-examination.
Avoiding Conflicts of Interest
Ensuring Honesty and Integrity
During both the interview process and the time working together after you’ve hired your candidate, you need to be thoughtful of your candidate’s honesty and integrity. If there is any possibility for a conflict of interest, whether in favor or against your case, you’ll most likely need to choose a new candidate. That’s why this is an important issue to figure out as early as possible. Otherwise, the honesty and integrity of your whole case collapses.
Respecting Client Confidentiality
Ensure your candidate understands how important confidentiality is regarding you and your case. They need to be willing to protect all sensitive information.
Managing the Expert Witness During the Trial
No conflict of interest, integrity, and confidentiality must be maintained during the trial to keep the case from falling apart. Open communication is essential for the success of a case. If a problem arises, you, your legal team, and your expert witness all need to feel safe and comfortable sharing it.
Choosing the right traffic expert witness can make or break your case. It’s important that you pick the candidate that best fits your legal strategy and who can provide the most knowledgeable and accurate analysis to your audience. To keep your case running smoothly from start to finish, you’ll want to ensure successful collaboration between you and your entire team, including the witness. Make sure communication is open and clear, expectations are identified, and everyone is working as a team. Above all else, make sure you show your appreciation for those helping you win your case, so your working relationships stay positive.