What Questions Should I Ask an Expert Witness?
Before you hire an expert witness, it’s important to make sure that they are the right person for your case. A good expert should be qualified, reliable, and an effective communicator. Moreover, they shouldn’t have any baggage that can hurt your case down the line. Below, we discuss a few areas of inquiry you should explore with a possible expert witness before you hire them for your matter. Call an effective medical expert witness with any additional questions or for help with a legal matter.
What Are Your Qualifications?
In order to even be admitted as an expert, the witness must have appropriate qualifications. That means the witness must have the relevant education and degrees, licensure, and experience in the field.
Depending upon the nature of the issue, you may need more specific expertise: fellowships in the specific field, publications on related issues, practice performing similar procedures or researching similar issues, etc. Before you hire your expert, make sure they have sufficient qualifications to stand up to scrutiny from the court and from opposing counsel.
Have You Written Any Publications, Reports, or Opinions on the Specific Issues in the Case?
As an attorney, it’s important to review your expert witness’s history. It can be difficult, if not impossible, however, to review every single piece of writing the witness has ever published. As part of your investigation, you should ask whether they have had occasion to opine on the specific issues presented by the case, including not only the issue on which you intend to have them testify, but also other issues they may have covered given their field of expertise.
The last thing you want is to find out on the eve of a Daubert hearing that your expert issued a report ten years ago directly contradicting their findings in your case. If their report is not thrown out summarily, at a minimum it will be eviscerated by opposing counsel in front of the jury.
Have You Ever Been Prevented from Testifying?
Not every expert is admitted to opine in every case in which they are retained. Having an opinion rejected from a prior case does not necessarily mean your expert is not qualified, but it’s important for you to understand why. If the court ruled on some technical issue that the opinion was not as relevant as it needed to be, that’s one thing. If the court was presented with evidence that the expert fabricated research, lied about their credentials, or made massive mistakes in their process, that’s important information for you to know.
What Is Your Litigation History?
Expert witnesses often make a second career out of testifying in legal matters. That’s not necessarily a bad thing–it helps to have a witness who knows how to generate an expert report, understands the questions that will be asked, is practiced at fielding cross-examination, and knows how to testify at a deposition or in front of a jury.
It can, however, undermine your expert’s credibility if they have testified in dozens of cases and always side with the same party, especially when their opinions are not always consistent. If the other side can paint your expert as a “hired gun” for doctors, for the insurance industry, or for whichever party you represent, the power and credibility of their testimony may be undermined.
It’s also useful to review prior testimony and trial transcripts to get a sense of how your expert performs on the stand. If you can review their prior testimony or prior court opinions about their expert reports, you’ll have a better sense of how they’ll do in your case.
What Do You Charge?
Experts, like attorneys, have different fee structures. It’s important to know, going in, just how much your expert testimony will cost you and your client. Make sure to discuss and negotiate the expert’s fees, and don’t forget to discuss matters such as retainer fees or how they expect to be paid for case-related travel and other expenses.
If you need a seasoned and professional expert witness in a personal injury, medical malpractice, or product liability case, contact the offices of Neurosurgery Medlegal Services, LLC, at 866-659-8051.