Expert witnesses are typically used in legal cases with high expected settlements or restitution awards. For example, a expert witness finance may consult on an embezzlement or fraud case. The purpose of using witnesses is to strengthen your argument and persuade the jury that you are on the right side of the case and law.
You must first determine why you need a witness and what you expect. For example, are you looking for general information about a topic, or do you need a witness to review your evidence? Will your witness write a report about what was found in the review, or will you have the witness testify during the trial? During the hiring process, you need to share your goals with your expert witnesses so they are prepared and can set aside the time you need from them.
Expert witnesses charge for their services. Therefore, you should ask about their costs prior to hiring them. Be sure to identify any hidden costs, such as travel and research fees, in addition to their hourly rate. Some witnesses’ hourly rates change during a case, charging more initially in case the lawsuit is settled or dismissed.
A witness cannot present biased information. Their job is to present information about their area of expertise. They offer opinions based on scientific data or methods. Witnesses may also change their opinions.
You must also share your expert witnesses’ names and contact information with your opposing counsel, so they have time to research and talk to your witness. Their goal is to discredit or find holes in your witnesses’ testimonies to prove their cases.
Finally, the judge has the final say in whether a witness is an expert, including the level of a witness’ expertise, which may impact your case preparation and outcome.
If you need an expert witness, be prepared and find the best, most reputable witness available. Do not choose a witness based solely on cost, and manage any uncertainty carefully.