How to Compensate an Expert Witness for Travel
When you hire an expert witness for your case, you want a professional in the industry with proper education, training, and experience. The best experts have stellar resumes, which serves to boost their credibility. Finding the right expert may require searching out of county or out of state. Your chosen witness may have a busy schedule, as would be expected from an active practitioner in the relevant industry. You’ll need to bring your chosen expert to your location to sit for depositions and testify, as needed. If the expert is traveling specifically to work on your matter, you’ll need to compensate them appropriately. As with attorney fee structures, expert witness fee structures may differ when it comes to travel. Read on for a discussion of travel compensation for experts, and call an effective medical expert witness with any additional questions.
Defined Travel Fee
There are no set standards for how expert witnesses should be compensated for travel, which means that you and your expert will need to reach an agreement. One attractive option is to set a flat fee for travel time. The expert may be paid a set rate for each day they are away from their home and office, or a certain fee for the travel days and a separate rate for the days they spend in your area working on your case.
A defined travel fee gives you and the expert certainty regarding travel expenses, allowing all parties to plan appropriately. Some experts may, however, be wary of fixed fees if unforeseen circumstances cause travel delays or trip cancellations.
Standard Hourly Rate
Some expert witnesses will expect to be compensated at their normal hourly rate for the duration of their travel. While this strikes as logical–the expert is traveling to work on your case, after all–paying their hourly rate for 24 hours/day or even for the duration of the flights and physical travel can quickly add up. Attorneys may be wary of paying the full hourly rate for an expert during actual travel, especially when they are not actively working on the case.
You may be able to negotiate a deal under which the expert agrees to work on the case while traveling, or to limit the hourly rate to actual travel time, to mitigate the expense.
Some expert witness arrangements call for payment of travel expenses only. You’ll pay for the expert’s flights, hotel costs, rental car, etc., but no additional rate for the actual time spent traveling. That affords the expert the chance to work on other matters while traveling or to catch up on sleep so that they are fresh and alert for their expert witness tasks.
While this is an attractive option for attorneys, some experts may feel that such an arrangement does not adequately cover the opportunity cost of travel; if they were home, they could work on other matters.
Special Travel Rate
Many experts and attorneys agree to a special, discounted rate for travel time. Your expert may be compensated at their normal rate while actively working on the case–such as while they attend strategy meetings, depositions, or trial–and at a discounted rate for travel time. The expert will avoid feeling like they are wasting uncompensated time they could be working, while the attorney (and the client) will appreciate the reduced rate for time spent on anything besides actual work on the case.
Discuss the options with your chosen expert to learn about their prior experiences and their preferences. You, the expert, and your client can come to a reasonable arrangement that may involve one of these approaches or a combination of several.
If you need a reliable, experienced, and credible expert witness in a personal injury, medical malpractice, or product liability case, contact the offices of Neurosurgery Medlegal Services, LLC, at 866-659-8051.