Expert witnesses are paid to offer opinions on scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge that will help the trier of fact, usually the jury. As a result, expert witnesses frequently in personal injury cases opine on what is or is not safe for the public and the person injured.
All too frequently expert witnesses are caught short and embarrassed during their cross-examination when it is revealed that they are not following their own advice and in fact are using the “unsafe” product themselves in their office or, even worse, in their home exposing their family to the product.
Here are two recent examples:
A safety expert witness testifies under oath in a slip and fall case that the rubber mats at the entryway of a building where the plaintiff fell were “unsafe.” During cross-examination it is revealed in a dramatic fashion by defense counsel that this safety expert uses the exact same rubber mats at his own office building. Not good…not good at all.
A mechanical engineer expert witness testifies that a lawnmower that caused a serious injury is unsafe. On cross-examination it is of course revealed that the expert had in fact used the same lawnmower (same make and model) at his home when he had several small children living with him. Not good…not good at all.
Expert witnesses need to follow their own advice and anticipate that they will be faced with this line of cross-examination by opposing counsel.