When someone sustains an injury from a car accident and is seeking an attorney for representation, they will typically go through some degree of a screening process to determine what law firm or attorney is right for them and their case.
This process may include asking friends or family for a referral or by googling or calling around to various firms in their area to determine the right one for the job. The injured person may even choose based on whoever’s advertisements have imprinted the most on their brain.
The same screening process should hold true for attorneys looking to hire an expert witness to help support their case. Let’s say an attorney is looking to hire a life care planner to determine the future medical / rehabilitative care and associated costs for their clients’ case.
The attorney may call colleagues to ask who they use or may just go online and do a search. They may even hire the company who puts up the most advertising dollars to make an impact and determine that they are the best.
I’ve been a personal injury doctor for over 20 years and have heard from both clients and attorneys the horror stories, headaches, mishaps, and nightmares these individuals have experienced from hiring expert witnesses that were unqualified, insufficient or unprofessional.
From an attorney / expert relationship point of view, the most common complaint I have heard is, “the experts they hire don’t perform well on the stand”…and as we know, an expert’s report is only as good as their ability to defend it to the opposing counsel and win the hearts of the jury.
The Frye Test and Daubert Decision, Rule 702, and Rule 26 are the defining standards for admissible scientific evidence in trial from an expert’s testimony and their reports. If the criteria and rules of evidence set forth by these rulings are not met, the court may not allow acceptance of your expert to testify on behalf of your client. Make sure you choose your experts wisely to avoid this issue at trial.
I think a more common issue, however, is if the expert is unable to fully educate the jury on the methodology behind their report, the conclusions that they came to, and how those conclusions affect the livelihood of the client. If this happens, the jury will often discredit the expert and disregard their report or their testimony which could prove to be catastrophic to your case.
Over the last two decades, I have testified for numerous cases both as a treating doctor and an expert. Understanding what evidence is admissible in trial and how to portray that evidence to the jury is imperative, and has become a personal commitment to deliver highly qualified and understandable reports to help effectively educate the jury.