Expert witnesses can be the key to successfully litigating a dispute. Experts are a valuable resource for attorneys and society has high expectations for them in terms of what they can do. Here are three myths about hiring an expert witness, and the truth behind those myths: Myth #1: Hiring An Expert Witness Will Help … Continued
Tips on Hiring Expert Witnesses
The educational background of an expert witness is one of the considerations involved in the expert selection process. There is a distinction between the quality of education versus the quantity of degrees. While the number of degrees possessed by an expert can certainly be of value, understanding the quality of such degrees is of equal … Continued
Navigating through the abundance of information contained within an expert’s CV, can be both a difficult and time-consuming process. In addition to prior experience and level or degree of education, there are a variety of other factors that can greatly contribute to the overall level of expertise, such as certifications, licenses, publications, memberships, affiliations, awards, … Continued
The prior work experience of a potential expert witness is perhaps one of the most crucial of considerations. Similar to other assessment processes associated with the selection of an expert, it is necessary to consider prior experience in conjunction with other credentials. Litigators should examine the relevance between an expert witness’ prior experience and the needs presented … Continued
The purpose of the free initial discussion is to determine if and how an expert witness can help you in clarifying the technical and scientific issues, thus giving you the advantage for your case. The initial conversation with experts can help you determine if you have the right expert discipline in mind. The attorney can benefit by gaining better technical knowledge or clarification on the case without obligation.
The length of the initial discussion varies greatly depending on the expert and the type of case involved. Some experts limit the initial phone conversation to 30 minutes while others are more flexible. For example, medical doctors might limit the initial phone call to 15 minutes with an attorney on a personal injury matter. On the other hand, a software engineer expert witness might spend over an hour on the phone with the patent attorney for a major patent infringement case.
When litigating any case requiring the assistance of an expert, it is important to find the right expert as early in the case as possible. The expert will need to prepare for discovery and depositions, and can help the attorney prepare his or her discovery requests and questions for opposing witnesses. In complex cases, sometimes it is a good idea to retain an expert to act not as a witness, but as a consultant to help prepare the case, in addition to hiring an expert witness.
When handling a medical malpractice (or “MedMal”) case, finding the right medical expert should be an attorney’s top priority. Medical malpractice occurs when a health care provider is negligent, whether by act or omission, in the provision of treatment or care to a patient. The treatment is considered negligent when it falls below the standard of care that would be exercised by a reasonably prudent medical professional and results in injury or death to the patient. Identifying the standard of care is critical in these cases, so a qualified medical expert witness is the key to proving a medical malpractice case. In fact, some states even require that legal counsel provide a statement of merit before filing a medical malpractice claim on behalf of a client. For these reasons, finding the right medical expert witness should be the first step for a MedMal attorney when taking on a new case.
With the significant impact an expert witness can have on a case, it is imperative to run a conflict check before an attorney hires an expert witness. The purpose of a conflict check is to ensure that an expert witness can serve a client free from any conflicts of interest. Conflicts of interest can prevent an expert witness from committing to a client at all, or could lead to the expert being distracted by another interest or commitment to someone else. Indeed, an expert witness can be disqualified by the court or another party due to a conflict of interest, so conflict checks are crucial before an attorney selects an expert witness for the case.
Expert Witnesses are the small percentage of individuals who are the best of the best in their respective industries. Under the best of circumstances, a good expert witness can be hard to find, and if a case teeters on that expert witness’ opinion, only the best will do. But for non-continental states like Hawaii and Alaska, finding an expert witness that is both qualified and free of conflicts can be a nearly impossible task given the small populations and geographical isolation.
Cross-examining expert witnesses can be one of the more challenging and intellectually intimidating tasks that litigators face. Preparedness is essential to any successful cross-examination. Any successful cross-examination of an expert witness requires thorough preparation and execution, as there is less of a margin for error than with other witnesses.
The first thing to do to prepare to cross examine an expert witness is to clearly define your goals. You should write out a detailed litigation plan and make sure that your goals are attainable and not over-reaching. As Dan Boone wrote in Canadian Lawyer, “Don’t try to get away with broad sweeping questions that overreach attainable goals.”
There was once a time when people used phone books and called operators when looking for goods or services. However, the Internet has become the go-to medium for finding the products and services we need. Not surprisingly, when attorneys need to find expert witnesses to support them during litigation, the Internet is also the first place that many of them are looking.
Scientific research is quite different from legal research. Law is outcome-centric. In other words, we have a desired result and we identify facts and theories that support our desired outcome. Conversely, science is research-centric. Scientists begin with hypotheses, but permit the research to dictate the conclusion. It’s similar to deciding which is more important: where you’re going or how you get there? Lawyers are concerned with the destination, scientists with the journey. For a true scientific researcher, the goal is to confirm your hypothesis, but it isn’t essential.
Among the most important factors in moving ahead in a lawsuit is budget. Even the deepest pockets would rather save a buck than spend a buck. Common sense. But there are times when we rationalize irrationally because of the temptation of short-term thrift. As litigators, we have all experienced clients who are quite vocal and forceful in being frugal with respect to retaining expert witnesses.
Their reasoning seems almost self-evident and inescapable: why employ an outside expert to testify about a company when they already have an employee who already knows the business inside and out, and won’t cost a dime? An outsider will have to spend an inordinate amount of time getting up to speed with respect to the client’s business. While the employee expert can hit the ground running. It’s this logic that oftentimes compels clients to be very forceful and sometimes intransigent when it comes to utilizing internal experts rather than external experts.
Attorneys, judges, and forensic accountants view the expert witness from different perspectives. Attorneys’ hire expert witnesses to arrive at favorable conclusions for the case, and to rebut the opposing expert. Judges will rely on the experts’ knowledge and give more weight to their conclusions, when the judge cannot reach one without such assistance.
Medical malpractice cases can involve claims for significant injury with corresponding demands for significant damages. It is an area of law that predictably requires the testimony of an expert witness.
Just how closely do you need to tie your expert witness to the allegations at hand?
Regardless of the area of law, if you plan to present an expert witness for testimony, you need to think about expert witness trial testimony before and during expert witness selection, as well as early on in your working relationship. Here are four tips for you to consider in this regard.
Attorneys looking for expert witnesses to solidify their positions need to consider several factors when choosing an expert. If an expert possesses certain skills while lacking others, he or she might hinder a case more than advance it. For example, you might find an extremely qualified expert who is respected in his field. However, if he is not a competent public speaker, it could be detrimental if the case goes to trial. An expert witness must be something of a Renaissance man (or woman), possessing a variety of attributes.
For every machine that breaks or heart that stops beating, there is someone who possesses the experience and training to answer why. In fact, for virtually any dispute brought to trial there exists someone who possesses that extra knowledge necessary to deliver a stronger—and hopefully winning—argument. In fact, certain situations demand expert testimony. At other times, expert testimony is necessary to offset an opposing legal team’s arguments. If, for example, you are the plaintiff in a case about corporate negligence and the defense hires a competent expert, showing up to trial without an expert of your own could be equivalent to bringing a knife to a gunfight.
Here are three typical scenarios that demand the use of an expert witness:
In any medical malpractice case, the plaintiff’s role is to win the jurors’ sympathy. It is usually fair to expect that jurors will approach malpractice cases without a bias, listen to the plaintiff and defense and then make an evidence-based decision.
When most people think of the word security, they might think of an alarm system that protects their home or car. However, in the world of finance, a security refers to a negotiable financial instrument representing value. Securities are qualified as debt securities (such as bank notes or bonds), equity securities (such as common stocks and mutual funds) and derivative securities (such as hedge funds and futures). Securities were originally represented by certificates, but increasingly, they’ve come to be represented electronically.
Engineering experts can offer vital litigation support and can help sway a judge and jury in your client’s favor based on the strong and objective technical analysis of the issues of your case. However, when you are considering retaining an engineering expert witness, it is paramount that you ascertain, not only his experience testifying as an engineering expert, but also his experience that is relevant to your specific case.
Dr. Donald M. May, Ph.D., a director in the Litigation and Corporate Financial Advisory Services Group at New York-based accounting firm Marks Paneth & Shron LLP, has released a statement citing the importance of including expert witnesses as consultants in preparation for litigation.
“In most cases, a law firm will bring in an expert witness near the end of the litigation process to report and testify.” Says Donald M. May, “But that’s not the most cost-effective way to use an expert.”