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.
Information that an expert witness can provide:
- Conflict Check. The expert can usually tell you whether or not he or she has a conflict of interest based on the parties involved, including the name of the opposing counsel and opposing expert(s). ForensisGroup does an initial conflict check with the experts for the attorney if the counsel provides the necessary case information.
- Expert Witness Qualifications. An attorney can ask the expert about his or her qualification, such as work history, academic background, research, publications, and experience in relation to the case involved.
- Expertise in the Case Issue. If the attorney provides the expert witness sufficient information about case background, the expert witness will be able to determine if he or she has the expertise to address the issues involved.
- Strengths and Weaknesses of the Case. The expert witness might be able to preliminarily discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your case based on his or her experience as an expert witness in the respective area. In some cases, this will help an attorney determine whether or not he or she has a case. Of course, this is based on the assumption that the initial facts of the case are sufficient and the issues involved are straightforward. For example, a general surgeon expert witness might tell an attorney that it is a strong case of medical negligence if a surgical tool was left inside a patient.
What not to expect from the initial phone call:
- Formal expert opinion. Experts will need to review the facts of the case to formulate their expert opinion. Even if an expert witness made a comment about the strength of the case, it is not the formal expert opinion because the expert has not reviewed the adequate data, evidence, and other information on the case. Formal case review is considered billable time in the expert witness industry. It is generally not part of the initial discussion.
- Source of Conflict of Interest. If the expert finds that he or she has a conflict of interest during the initial discussion, the expert does not have to disclose the specific source of conflict.
Free expert consultation is an opportunity to interview the expert witness prior to engaging the expert. It also offers a chance for the experts to listen to your case and evaluate how they can help you. The time you spend with the expert witness depends on the type of case and the availability of the expert. An expert witness referral service can connect with you several experts at no cost.
ForensisGroup is known to offer a multi-disciplined approach by referring attorneys several expert witnesses whose disciplines may have an impact on the various issues of the case.
By: Mercy Steenwyk
Mercy Tolentino Steenwyk is the President and CEO of ForensisGroup, a consulting expert and expert witness referral company. Ms. Steenwyk founded ForensisGroup in 1991, and a recipient of different awards in business, non-profit, including for the firm as one of the largest 100 woman-owned and minority-owned businesses in Lost Angeles for 2011 and 2012. Mercy has over 30 years of experience in strategic planning, operations, management & marketing. She received her B.A. from the University of the Philippines and a Professional Designation from UCLA Ext. including numerous graduate studies in diverse topics in business, law and industrial engineering and others. Mercy currently resides in California. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, traveling, painting, poetry, flower arrangement, cooking and giving back.
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