Are you wondering how to become an expert witness? Follow our guide below.
What Is An Expert Witness?
An expert witness is hired to provide independent expertise on any subject in a court of law. Expert witnesses can be used in various capacities like arbitrations and litigations. These witnesses will give sworn evidence to a court of law or tribunal.
There are two types of expert witnesses:
- Witness who gives evidence based on his/her expertise related to the facts of a specific case.
- Witness of fact who provides evidence, but generally refrains from giving opinions.
Anyone with knowledge or expertise in a field of interest can become an expert witness. The main duty of any expert witness is to provide the court with unbiased expertise and opinions related to the case. These experts are called upon to help decide disputes. Typically, witnesses are not used to assist in the formation of a party’s claim or defense, though. Testimonies by these witnesses can ultimately swing juries and win cases. Expert witnesses will always be compensated by the team retaining them.
Becoming An Expert Witness
If you are wondering if any professional can become an expert witness, the answer is yes. In fact, nowadays many nurses, doctors and paramedics are commonly called for services during cases. These professionals are called to provide expertise on injuries, medical procedures, etc. Many other professions can be in high demand, as well. For example, contractors and architects are used to provide insight on building codes and construction practices, among other topics. Teachers can be requested in cases regarding education.
Expert Witness Legal Standards
There are no “hard and fast” rules or regulations for expert witnesses today. Instead, attorneys and judges rely on two monumental court opinions when determining whether or not a witness is qualified for the case. Frye Vs. The United States essentially established standards for expert witnesses. The ruling in the case stated that any witness testimony must be widely accepted within the scientific community.
A different case, Daubert Vs. Merrill Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., resulted in a more modern set of standards. As long as the witnessed used scientific methods, peer-reviewed methodology and shared an opinion that was widely accepted, the expert’s opinion would then hold up in court. The Daubert case essentially gave judges the power to determine validity of any expert testimony.
Expert Witness Duties
An expert witness can perform all of the following tasks:
- Provide independent expert analysis/opinions in accordance to the instructions given.
- Provide opinions in writing form or evidence before the court.
- Comply with any and all rules of the court or tribunal orders.
- Always remain independent and impartial.
- Make sure the Expert’s Report complies with the information required by court rules.
Considerations Before Becoming An Expert Witness
Being able to go through a deposition or trial is the first step towards becoming an expert witness. Expert witnesses must understand ahead of time that their personal and professional background will be scrutinized during trial. While not every case will go to trial, there is always the need for expert witnesses to review records, report writing or provide individual testing.
When Are You Officially An Expert Witness?
There are several ways to become recognized as an expert witness either through extensive education or job-related experience. Typically, there are a few guidelines that hold true in the majority of cases utilizing their services. Witnesses ideally hold a terminal or advanced degree in their professional field. In some cases, a long and successful career can outweigh academics, though.
Attorneys determining the validity of an expert witness will examine these areas:
- Have you at any time been quoted by the press?
- Have you spoken at any professional conferences?
- How flexible is your current schedule?
- Have you ever won a prestigious award?
- Is any work of yours published in highly-regarded journals?
- Do you have any prior witness experience?
- Are you comfortable and able to communicate during court proceedings?
Types Of Expert Witnesses
There are many different kinds of expert witnesses, including:
- Pain and suffering caused to an individual
- Insight into additional surgeries that may be needed
- Prognosis for the person
- Limitations the people may face following an injury
- The effects of injuries following a criminal assault
- Ascertaining whether great bodily harm of substantial bodily harm has been caused
- Explain the manner of death following a homicide
- Whether a person can return to the workplace and under what conditions
- Advise to what additional training a person may benefit from to facilitate their return
- What a person may do to reclaim their independence
- Testify to how much future wages may be lost
- Investigate and offer advice as to how long alimony should last
- The safe design and manufacture of a product
- Whether the designer or manufacturer was aware of a defect that may cause injury when used in the intended manner.
- Establishing DNA evidence
- Ascertaining if a substance is an illegal substance
- Testifying about the level of alcohol found in blood
- If a fire was deliberate or the result of an accident
Mental Health Experts
- If someone was in a rational state of mind when making changes to their will
- Is there a question of criminal insanity
- Does a person have full mental competency or not?
- Is a person mentally capable of managing their own affairs
- Advising on the emotional capacity of a child or children
- If a parent is in recovery from addiction whether or not they can be effective parents
- Evaluating the home life of a child or children
- Recommending course of actions and plans in the best interest of the child or children
Real Estate Expert Witness Services by Craig Cherney, Esc.
Craig Cherney is a trusted client advisor and a sought after real estate expert witness who is hired by the nation’s top Real Estate Litigation Attorneys to help resolve their litigated real property matters. Craig has appeared as a testifying expert witness before judges and juries in California, Arizona, Nevada and other jurisdictions across the country. Craig Cherney, Esq. Expert Witness Real Estate. 480-399-2342.