10 Questions You Need to Ask before Hiring an Expert Witness

9584318_origExpert witnesses play an important role in the litigation process. Finding the best possible expert witness is essential for supporting allegations or defenses–and can ultimately ensure a positive trial outcome. Here are ten important interview questions to ask before hiring
an expert witness.

1. What are your qualifications?
Ask for a copy of the expert’s CV to find out the following:

  • Educational background (including degrees, licenses, and certifications)
  • Published articles in peer-reviewed journals
  • Academic experience
  • Memberships in professional organizations and societies
  • Awards or other professional recognition

2. What experience do you have testifying in litigation cases?
When working with expert witnesses, past experience is a key factor. Find out how many years the expert has been working in the field. Also, ask for a list of which cases he or she has testified in the past.

3. Do you have any conflicts with this case?
Identifying potential conflicts now may save you a lot of time and energy down the line — and possibly prevent serious problems with the case. Share a list of all parties involved in the case. Additionally, ask if the expert has ever testified for or against the opposing party.

4. What makes you the best expert witness for this case?
Give the expert the opportunity to explain what sets them apart from other expert witnesses and makes them a good fit for your case. Listen for examples of recent, relevant experience as well as familiarity with legal issues and controversies in your type of litigation.

5. Do you have references?
During the interview, one of your priorities should be finding out how the expert handles a cross-examination. Ask for written and videotaped copies of depositions, samples of reports, and references from attorneys the expert has worked with in court.

6. Have you ever been prevented from testifying?
By the time of the interview, you should know whether the expert has a criminal record or any disciplinary history. However, be sure you understand the circumstances–and then follow up during the vetting process.

7. How does your expertise differ from opposing counsel’s expert?
Professional specialties can often be broken down into several subspecialties, many times with considerable differences. Ensure you choose the right expert by asking him how his expertise compares to the opposing counsel’s expert.

8. What is your ratio of litigation work?
When investigating the expert’s prior litigation experience, find out whether they have worked primarily for the defense or plaintiff. If there is a disproportionate balance, determine whether this is normal in the area of expertise or due to another issue.

9. Can you meet the deadline?
Rule out any scheduling conflicts as early as possible. Ensure the expert will be able to meet all deadlines without any problems. Along the same lines, if the expert agrees to share his cell phone number, it is a good sign that accessibility will not be a problem later.

10. What are your rates?
Confirm the expert’s rates. Discuss reimbursement for travel expenses, expense limitations, and any travel restrictions upfront.

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