In high-stake civil and criminal cases, testimony from an expert witness is often a significant litigation strategy. Experts provide testimony that addresses unique facts and answers specific questions related to liability. Expert witnesses also come in handy when quantifying damages. Since an expert witness plays an important role in high profile cases, lawyers are often keen when finding and choosing an expert. Read on to learn how lawyers choose expert witnesses from a pool of professionals.
Determining Whether an Expert is Required
The first step in selecting an expert witness is to determine whether they are needed, and if so, what kind of expert to choose. Typically, a lawyer will require an expert when the issues and facts of the case cannot be easily comprehended. A professional witness also helps the judge in making decisions when a conclusion or opinion cannot be easily attained.
Who Qualifies as an Expert?
The following are some of the criteria that experts must satisfy:
The witness should be qualified to provide an opinion through knowledge, experience, skill, education, or training
- The opinion should help the judge/jury comprehend the evidence
- The witness’s opinion should be premised on enough facts
- The witness’s opinion should be based on reliable methods and principles
Factors Considered When Choosing an Expert Witness
Past Testifying Experience
Lawyers will want to determine the cases or issues on which an expert candidate has offered testimony. The lawyer’s intention is to review the results of an expert’s testimony and their credibility.
Lawyers vet their candidates to prevent embarrassment in court. The main intention of a background check is to check an expert’s reputation and standing in their respective discipline. In a background check, the lawyer will be looking at the expert’s professional qualifications i.e. degrees or certificates in their field of practice; their experience, and their track record. These qualifications will be weighed against other candidates. For instance, if both applicants are nurses, but one has gone through an online respiratory therapy program, and it’s relevant to the case, that nurse will be chosen.
In most cases, when looking for expert witnesses, a lawyer relies on recommendations from their clients. For example, if one’s client has a working experience with a particular professional, they may be used to testify. Lawyers also rely on references from fellow lawyers who have used certain professionals as expert witnesses.
When lawyers are choosing experts from a pool of professionals, they first must determine why they need the testimony of an expert. The next step is to consider whether a particular person qualifies to be an expert. Finally, they need to select the most appropriate expert witness by relying on certain important factors.