Introduction: Determining who pays for an expert witness’s deposition in federal court can be baffling. While some jurisdictions, like California, set out specific rules for such matters, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) are much more vague on this issue. Accordingly, questions may routinely arise. This article addresses frequently asked questions regarding payment for … Continued
Expert Witness Fees
Expert witnesses have become an indispensable part of litigation. In California, it can be confusing to determine which party is responsible for paying an expert witness’s fees when a deposition is taken. This article answers frequently asked questions about billing for expert depositions and who handles the costs. The following FAQs are answered below with … Continued
Nearly every state has provisions included within their Rules of Professional Conduct, which expressly prohibit the use of contingency fees for experts. Even in jurisdictions that have not fully addressed the issue within their Rules of Professional Conduct, implications derived from the Rules of Evidence and Rules of Civil Procedure clearly support an argument against the use of such fees for experts. In addition, case law has long provided that contingency fee agreements for witnesses are against public policy.
Expert witnesses spend years acquiring the knowledge, expertise, and skills that make them experts in their fields. As such, it is not surprising that expert witnesses expect to be compensated for their time and knowledge. Some expert witnesses request a retainer or an upfront monetary deposit (sometimes non-refundable) in order to secure their services.
For litigations, a party may obtain discovery by demanding that all parties exchange information about each other’s expert witnesses after the parties in a case set the initial trial date. Designation is essentially naming the expert witness by the retaining party in the case. But, what happens if the case settles shortly after paying the retainer and before the expert has done any work? Is it appropriate for the expert to ask for a designation fee? Is it appropriate to request such fee in the first place? What are the standard practices related to designation fees? Following is an analysis of the pro’s and con’s of expert witness designation fees, as well as a brief overview of common practices related to these fees.
Being an expert witness requires knowledge, skills, education, experience, and training. Thus, expert witnesses are not always available in the exact location an attorney needs them to be. As a result, attorneys are often forced to hire out-of-state expert witnesses. But, many attorneys are unsure how to compensate such an expert witness for travel expenses.
Generally, the topic of expert witness compensation is a sensitive topic and rarely discussed. There do exist a number of guidelines issued by various professional organizations to which experts belong, but often these are completely voluntary standards. The standards usually are little more specific than what the expert should bill ethically and in a manner that does not jeopardize his or her ability to remain objective, such as having a stake in the outcome of the case. Indeed, many experts are, themselves, reluctant to discuss compensation for what are, perhaps, obvious reasons.