In the legal world, there are generally two types of witnesses that you will see: (1) factual witnesses and (2) expert witnesses. Technically, there are three, if you count hybrid witnesses. These types of witnesses serve both actual and expert purposes.
More specifically, a hybrid witness is a factual witness who also happens to have the necessary knowledge, skill or expertise to be able to testify and whose opinion is formed as a result of the witness' involvement in the subject events. 1
A hybrid witness is usually said to serve a "dual purpose" because they are allowed to testify to both the facts and their overall expert opinions. 2 [1
So why would a first-party property exact insurance plaintiff want to consider a public adjustment as a hybrid witness? What are the benefits? Authors who have talked about the hybrid witness explain the benefits of using these types of witnesses. Some of the most common benefits are: (1) direct knowledge of relevant information, (2) cost savings, (3) time savings and (4) favorable jury perspective. 3
The biggest advantage, it seems, is that because these hybrid witnesses have become so familiar with the subject matter, they have more experienced knowledge and will ultimately save the party money. 4 Rather than spending money on a subject matter expert who must take time to become familiar with the matter and its facts, these experts will have first-hand experience of the matter and thus save costs in the long run.
It should be noted that the use of expert witnesses will generally require a signed, written report in accordance with applicable federal or state law. However, this requirement differs with respect to certain hybrid witnesses. Although a public adjuster may need to file a written report if they were a hybrid witness, an insurance company does not need to do so. It will ultimately be a matter of discerning whether they are a legitimate hybrid witness or a normal expert witness (which results in them having to meet stricter requirements).
So it is important to distinguish between the two categories. However, the difference between the hybrid witness and the expert witness is sometimes confused.
Courts have considered insurance adjusters as hybrid facts / expert witnesses under Rule 26 (a) (2) (A), who may testify at trial, without generating a signed, written report in accordance with Article 26 (a) (2) (B) because they were actual participants before disputes, they do not receive [e] additional compensation for their testimony at the trial, their statements regarding repair and replacement costs are part of the normal insurance adjustment process & # 39; and were not given at the request of advisers, and their views are not based on any facts, information or documents generated [ed] by the subsequent disputes. 5
So how does a court decide if a witness is a hybrid witness? In general, they will look at the source of the facts on which a witness is based for the statement. often looks at whether the witness' perception is based on facts that the witness learned or, through observations that the witness made during his normal course. 6
The distinguishing feature between expert opinions that require a report and those that do not is whether the opinion is based on information acquired by the expert witness through observations of percipient or whether the opinion, as in the case of detained experts, is based on information from others or in any other way than by being a percipient witness to the events concerned. 7
As explained, it may be obvious to appoint an expert (such as an insurance adjuster) as a hybrid witness when using a case. Ultimately, the decision will make it down to the position of the witness in the case and his testimony.
1 Jon. M. Talotta and Michael M. Smith. Take Care of the Basics of "Hybrid" Witnesses in Virginia Federal and State Practice, Legal Focus / Civil Litigation . https://www.hoganlovells.com/~/media/hogan-lovells/pdf/publication/getting-a-handle_pdf.pdf
2 Discovery of experts BL FL-CLE 8-1  3 Peter A. Lauricella & Nicole Haimson. USA: Working Hybrid Witnesses . mondaq. https://www.mondaq.com/unitedstates/personal-injury/978788/working-hybrid-witnesses Px19659015] 4 Id.19459005]
5 Pendarvis v. Am. Bankers Ins. Co. of Fla. No. 06-772, 2008 WL 8715813, at * 3 (MD La. January 24, 2008) (with reference to St. Paul Mercury Ins. Co. v. Capitol Sprinkler Inspection, Inc. No. 05-2115, 2007 WL 1589495, at * 11 (DDC June 1, 2007)).
6 Peter A. Lauricella & Nicole Haimson. USA: Working Hybrid Witnesses . mondaq. https://www.mondaq.com/unitedstates/personal-injury/978788/working-hybrid-witnesses
7 U. S. v. Sierra Pac. Indus. No. 09-2445, 2011 WL 2119078, at * 4 (E.D. cal. May 26, 2011); Smith v. Jacobs Eng & # 39; g GRP ., No. 04-496, 2008 WL 2781149, at * 2 (ND Fla. 18 April 2008) (“An indemnity assessment completed by an insurance adjustment date after an accident is not different from the diagnosis of a doctor treating an injured person. ").