Last Updated: 2/16/2023
An expert witness in a workers’ compensation case is a professional who possesses specialized knowledge of a subject that can enable the credible analysis of a piece of evidence or a relevant factor presented in the case. The type of expert utilized in a particular case is largely dependent on the circumstances of the case and evidence available.
Medical Testimony in Workers’ Compensation Cases
The outcome of a workers’ compensation claim may depend on the accurate analysis of complicated medical information. So an injured worker and his or her attorney could call upon an expert witness to testify.
The employer chooses the employee’s medical care, though employees can request an independent medical exam at the employer’s expense if they disagree with the employer-appointed doctor’s assessment of the injury and disability that it causes.
Employees can also speak to the employer and/or insurance company to request alternate care if they are unsatisfied with the employer-chosen physician’s care. If unsuccessful, employees can then appeal to the Workers’ Compensation Commissioner.
Any doctor who examines the patient may provide documentation or even testimony regarding the patient’s injuries, prognosis, and necessity of future treatment. These assessments by medical experts help determine the disability and impairment level assigned to the injured worker, which has a major impact on workers’ comp benefits.
Professionals Who May Provide Expert Testimony Regarding Causation
Workers’ compensation requires establishing that the worker’s injury or illness is work-related, meaning it was caused by exposures or accidents in the workplace. Even existing conditions could be covered if workplace conditions or events worsened the condition.
Scientific experts can carry out or suggest chemical tests to examine the toxicity level of substances used at the work site and establish that it:
- caused injury;
- aggravated an existing medical condition; and/or
- led to a chronic condition or a disease.
For instance, workers exposed to asbestos may consult an expert in the field who may provide testimony regarding causation of the worker’s medical condition given the level of exposure. Similarly, testimony by an auditory expert can help establish that noise levels in the workplace caused or contributed to the worker’s hearing problems.
Take Legal Action after a Workplace Injury
Workers are entitled to workers’ compensation if they are injured on the job, regardless of fault. Workers’ comp is generally the sole recourse against an employer in most cases, though workers who are injured because of a third party’s negligence may pursue compensation via a third-party claim. In this case, additional expert witnesses may be called upon to establish negligence.
This may be the case if machinery is the cause of the worker’s injuries. A technical expert familiar with the equipment may testify regarding a manufacturing or design defect, or the cause of a machine malfunction.
An attorney at Walker, Billingsley & Bair can provide legal assistance to workplace accident victims in Des Moines and surrounding areas. We have a strong network of expert witnesses that could testify. Give us a call today at (641) 792-3595 to schedule your free initial consultation.