Finding the Right Expert for Your Case
The right expert witness can be the difference between winning and losing a case. How can you find the right expert witness for your case?
To locate someone qualified to testify in court as an expert for your case, you will first need to decide exactly what type of expert will be most beneficial. Are you in need of someone with medical expertise, forensics experience, legal knowledge, or academic credentials? Witnesses with strong academic credentials can often be found at universities, for example. If you require expert testimony on brake damage, you will likely be more successful looking for an expert mechanic rather than someone with academic research experience.
Under the Federal Rules of Evidence, an expert must have a solid background and level of expertise in the subject matter of his/her testimony. Interview potential experts and conduct your investigation of their credentials and experience in order to avoid any surprises in court. Websites such as CrossExam.com can provide you with examples of some expert witness's actual testimony in prior cases. A witness with previous experience as an expert witness is generally a safer choice than one who has not testified in court previously.
Next, consider price. Some experts may testify for free, but most provide their services for a fee. A higher priced witness does not necessarily mean a more qualified witness, and sometimes the more effective experts cost very little. Do not rely on price alone when choosing your expert witness. Do your homework.
Getting references from other attorneys is often helpful, as is relying on witnesses you have used in past proceedings. Make sure that your witness is at least as qualified as the expert being called by the opposing counsel. On that note, do your own investigation on the opposing counsel's expert. If possible, find an expert who has successfully gone against your opponent's expert in the past.
Your expert witness should be willing to work closely with your team, and should be approved of by your clients before you make your final decision.
If you have decided to hire an expert witness that you have previously used in court, be certain to recheck the expert's credentials. Changes in the expert's background since you last worked with him may hurt or help your case, and you need to be prepared to deal with either before your witness takes the stand.
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