As a general rule, expert opinion is required whenever proof of an element of the case or defense calls for determination of an issue outside the common experience of the trier of fact. [Ev.C. § 801; Miller v. Los Angeles County Flood Control Dist. (1973) 8 C3d 689, 702, 106 CR 1, 9–10].  Similarly, recent years have evidenced the innovative use of experts in many auto accident cases. Notably, accident reconstructionists may be invaluable in establishing which party was at fault by, e.g., examining the accident site and/or viewing pictures of the damaged vehicles, skid marks, etc. Videotaped accident reconstructions are admissible evidence provided a proper foundation is laid demonstrating similarity of conditions between the reconstruction and actual occurrence. [DiRosario v. Havens (1987) 196 CA3d 1224, 1231–1233, 242 CR 423, 426–427]. Some practitioners hire “stunt artists” to recreate automobile collisions and thereby prove that an otherwise “obvious” defendant was not really at fault. Similarly, advances in computer technology have facilitated the use of computers to recreate accidents and scientifically determine how they occurred, as well as to depict graphically the causal events. Computer scientists are thus highly desirable experts in much personal injury litigation. Again, in a given case, the facts might point to an apparently “inevitable” conclusion; but experts specially trained in analyzing such facts might well come to an altogether different and highly persuasive opinion.

Despite strong theories of recovery against clearly viable and financially worthy defendants, counsel’s ability to make effective use of experts and demonstrative evidence can often “make or break” the case for their clients. Indeed, the effective use of demonstrative evidence is often dependent on the effective use of experts. For this reason, counsel for both sides must address the need to hire experts—in both a consulting and witness capacity—at the inception of the case. It would be best to seek personal assistance from a lawyer to help with your personal injury case.

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