A vocational expert may be an expert in the area of vocational rehabilitation, vocational and earning capacity, lost earnings, cost of replacement labor and lost ability / time in performing household services. The vocation expert may perform evaluations for purposes of civil litigation, as a basis for arriving at economic damages.
Vocational experts may identify and document what the person could have earned prior to the injury, compared to what they are likely to earn following the injury. Economic experts calculate the value of those earnings over time, so the difference, if any, between the two income streams is clearly understood by a jury. Those who act as vocational / economic experts blend the two disciplines, and may offer testimony in both arenas.
An attorney may designate a vocational expert as a “legal expert” who will testify in court; he may designate the vocational expert as a “consultant” who will not testify in court.
Qualifications to testify in court as an expert in the field of vocational rehabilitation are fairly strict and may be related to state certification and licensure. Typically, a graduate degree in counseling or psychology, plus certification / licensure will qualify the expert to testify. Ultimately, the Rules of Evidence in the court and jurisdiction presiding over the civil case will determine the expert’s eligibility. Most Rules of Evidence relating to the qualifications of an expert witness are based on the Federal Rules of Evidence; Rule 702, which states:
If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact (the Judge or Jury) to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise.
At The Law Office of J. Michael Solar PLLC the client may be assessed for his vocational needs, as well as his case’s need of vocational consultants or expert witnesses. Early identification of the need for consultation will assure optimal planning, communication and documentation for settlement discussions or trial.