Who is Qualified to Testify as a Construction Expert Witness?
Drawing on their extensive knowledge and expertise of the construction industry, construction expert witnesses can discuss and describe industry standards, technical language, and complex issues to the trier of fact. They can, therefore, provide testimony to inform on issues related to construction law. These include building delays, construction defects, codes and compliance, and construction costs.
Construction expert witnesses are expected to be well-versed and up to date on the methodologies, processes, and materials used in the case at hand. This is especially important as they should be able to consult, provide reports, and testify on various aspects of construction, including:
- Accident investigation
- Bonds and insurance
- Building code compliance
- Building process
- Construction contracts
- Construction defects
- Construction management
- Cost estimates
- Construction safety
- Design evaluation
- Forensic investigations
- Governmental regulations
- Infrastructure projects
- Land use and zoning
- Mechanic’s liens
- Price discrepancies
- Quality issues
- Regulatory compliance
- Standards of care
- Structural engineering
- Toxic mold
- Work zone safety
Sometimes it can also pay off to hire a specialist with expertise in the event that a construction accident and/or a construction injury occurs. Add to that the fact that new technologies and processes are constantly being introduced and improved on, and you have significant reasons to hire a construction expert witness.
However, since the most important reason for hiring a construction expert witness is the testimony that they provide, let’s look at that well.
Testimony Provided by a Construction Expert Witness
Testimonies provided by construction expert witnesses play a crucial role in strengthening a legal argument and persuading the trier of fact, to eventually attain a winning disposition. Below is 5 ways in which a construction expert witness can come in handy:
1. To Advise on the Standard of Care
Since construction experts testify on the standard of care when a legal dispute centers on assigning responsibility for an accident or mistake, it would be a good idea to hire one preemptively. The expert will be able to discuss standard industry warranties as well as speak to what signifies as:
- Acceptable workplace conditions
- Good workmanship
- Habitability of the structure
- Quality standards for a completed construction project
In disputes over such matters, their testimony will inform the jury deciding which party was at fault.
2. To Establish a Claim for Unfair Trade Practices
A trade practice is considered to be unfair when there is clear abuse of power. This abuse must be immoral, unethical, oppressive or significantly injurious to the consumer. A construction expert can establish a claim for unfair trade practices by providing a testimony that proves all, or some, of the following:
- The existence of an unfair or deceptive act or practice
- The existence of an unfair method of competition
These must have affected commerce and must have been the most probable cause of injury.
3. To Provide Advice Regarding Complex Engineering Processes
Almost all litigation matters associated with construction disputes involve complex, technically driven engineering processes. Some of these processes are prone to error and are in no way, shape or form the fault of the defendant, despite what the plaintiff might be claiming. In such complex lawsuits, a construction expert has the required knowledge to shed light on these processes and provide valuable testimony explaining how these processes may be affected by other external factors, such as the strength, toughness, and hardness of the material.
4. Determine Which party Caused Scheduling Delays
It is common for delays in the construction process to lead to a dispute that has to be resolved in court. These cases center around projects that have not been completed because of delays that stem from various issues and may have cost the client substantial amounts of money. In some countries, the delay in the construction must have affected activities on the critical part of the project – meaning that the project can’t go ahead until that specific activity is completed – for it to be considered as a valid breach of contract. A construction expert will be helping out.
5. To Elaborate on Customary Practices in the Bidding Process
Since the price to be paid for a certain construction job is very often one of the more contentious issues associated with construction contract litigation, it would be wise to have a construction expert witness provide a testimony. The complexity of such issues is compounded by the fact that the bidding process is extremely competitive as several people, including developers, contractors, managers, and other workers employed on the project, are involved in the process. Hence, in the event of litigation, the testimony of an expert can help to sway the judge and jury. The expert will also be able to go into further details when explaining the bidding process.