The Value of Expert Testimony in a Personal Injury Case
Articulate, knowledgeable and persuasive expert witnesses can be the deciding factor in a personal injury case. To a large extent, jurors rely on expert witnesses to break down complex jargon, facts and evidence into layman’s terms. Experts help lawyers prepare for a case, including depositions, discovery, and trial testimony. Quality witnesses are groomed to withstand cross-examination and speak colloquially to resonate well with the sensibilities of the jurors.
Types of expert witnesses
Depending on the facts surrounding the case, attorneys may call upon:
- Medical professionals
- Financial authorities
- Accident reconstruction specialists
- Structural engineers
- Maintenance personnel
- Regulations specialists
- First responders
- Billing experts
- Construction supervisors
- Forensic pathologists
- Rehabilitation therapists
- Life care planners
- And many others …
The cost of expert testimony
Expert witnesses can cost anywhere from $200 to $1,000 an hour. Research surveys suggest that the median hourly fee for file review and preparation is $245 for non-medical experts and $350 for medical experts. There is great variance within the medical field based on job description; for instance, a nursing expert may charge lower for a case review than a neurologist. Geographic location plays a part, too. In Michigan, expert testimony in court may cost more than an expert in Massachusetts.
In addition to hourly fees, attorneys are expected to cover travel and lodging expenses. We rely on local witnesses already in our network as much as possible, but not every doctor is willing to testify against another colleague within the same town. In other cases, you may need to tap a rare specialty not available locally or you may want to hire a well-respected individual who has experience with undergoing the scrutiny of cross-examinations in court.
What matters when securing an expert witness?
Jurors generally recognize an expert as someone who clearly and confidently explains information relevant to the case. A fully prepared expert witness is one of the most effective tools in helping plaintiffs win a favorable verdict.
The best expert witnesses have:
- On-point experience and advanced degrees or extensive field work
- The ability to connect their analysis with the data, or personal “hands on” experience working with the plaintiff
- Access to more information than what has been provided in a file from the attorneys’ office
- A demeanor, tone and manner that is confident, but not condescending
- A connection with the jurors gained by channeling their “inner professor” to break through complex subjects
- Experience on both sides of the aisle, testifying for both plaintiffs and defendants in the past
- Ability to consistently demonstrate good verbal and non-verbal characteristics (like eye contact and succinct answers)
Choose a law firm that can afford the cost of experts
Given the importance to the jury, you can’t afford to choose a law firm that lacks the depth of experience and the financial backing necessary to hire expert witnesses. Some lawyers opt to settle early to avoid the expense of preparing for a trial, but that may not secure fair compensation to cover their clients’ losses.
The Ellis Firm is willing to advance the funds necessary for expert testimony that can sway jurors and help to win you the largest possible verdict at trial. We have more than two decades of experience tapping expert witnesses to aid in our court cases.
Contact a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer for a free, no-obligation consultation.
Additional “personal injury expert witnesses” resources
- American Bar Association Journal – Choosing Expert Witnesses http://www.abajournal.com/magazine/article/choosing_expert_witness
- SEAK Expert Witness Directory – Expert Witness Fees: How Much Does An Expert Witness Cost? http://blog.seakexperts.com/expert-witness-fees-how-much-does-an-expert-witness-cost/
- The Expert Institute – Fees https://www.theexpertinstitute.com/expert-witness-fees/
- American Bar Association – Tips for Dealing with Exorbitant Expert Witness Fees https://apps.americanbar.org/litigation/committees/trialpractice/articles/summer2015-0915-tips-dealing-with-exorbitant-expert-witness-fees.html
- The Jury Expert – How Does My Retained Expert Witness Improve Credibility http://www.thejuryexpert.com/2016/04/how-does-my-retained-expert-witness-improve-credibility/