The answer to this question, like most everything in the context of a personal injury lawsuit, is that “it depends”. On the bright side, the laws of New York State relating to construction accidents have been written in a manner that is very protective of workers on job sites, and especially so as to workers who suffer injuries from “gravity-related” accidents such as falling from a scaffold. However, to obtain compensation for even the most devastating and life-altering construction injuries, injured workers must prove that their case qualifies pursuant to stringent and exacting legal tests that have been set up by the courts to evaluate whether compensation is due in any particular construction accident lawsuit. By using the example of a worker who has fallen from a scaffold on a New York construction site and sustained injuries thereby, this article hopes to educate readers about some of the legal hurdles that must be cleared in order to obtain compensation in a New York construction accident lawsuit.
Under New York law, the vast majority of witnesses are not permitted to give opinions as to various key aspects of a personal injury case. For example, in a construction injury case involving a fall from a scaffold, the plaintiff who fell may, in the vast majority of cases, only testify as to his or her knowledge of what actually occurred in the accident. That is to say that a plaintiff in such a construction accident case will not be allowed to offer testimony to the jury about, for example, what sort of safety equipment (such as harnesses, scaffold railings, etc.) should have been present to protect them and how a defendant’s failure to provide that equipment caused them harm. In order to allow a jury to hear evidence like this, you need to hire an expert witness.
Clients often ask why it is necessary to spend money to have an expert witness come in a testify about the cause of their accident when the client knows for certain why they got injured. I tell them that not only does the law require that a person who, under applicable law, is “qualified” to give certain opinions regarding the cause of an accident, but juries demand answers on complicated issues surrounding causation of serious accidents from people who have special knowledge of a subject. Also, experts are not personally interested in the case (apart, of course, from their fee charged for providing their opinions), and juries are always more comfortable awarding money to plaintiffs when an independent expert witness has backed up a plaintiff’s story of why they were injured. In short, paying for expert witnesses is not only money necessarily spent, it is money well spent.
The best personal injury lawyers like myself and those at my firm know how to get the right experts before a jury, what information to provide the expert so that the expert has a solid basis upon which to formulate an opinion that is favorable to your personal injury case, how to prepare the expert for trial so as to enable him or her to anticipate cross-examination question from the defendants, and how to work with the expert to write a report that highlights the strengths of your case while preserving the expert’s independence and credibility. I believe so deeply that expert witnesses are important to your case that I risk my own money to make sure that your case has the proper expert witness. Call me at (718) 354-8000 to discuss any possible cases you, a friend or a loved one may have, and I will educate you about expert witnesses and how they can be used to win your case.