Attorneys frequently have a need for expert witnesses during legal proceedings. Pre-trial vetting of such witnesses is vital, and must involve not only the professional standing and expertise of a potential witness, but also a thorough investigation of personal attributes and associations in addition to past performance — if any — in legal proceedings and trial situations.
In cases involving medical disputes, expert witnesses are most often specialists who have vast experience. But, because of the thousands of categories that surround more than 750 medical specialties, it can be difficult to narrow the field.
The ability to collect information from a wide variety of sources is important: Attorneys, paralegals and support staff must be diligent and resourceful in preliminary research. Some of the areas that must be examined when selecting the proper expert witness include:
In addition, the digital age has introduced another layer of complexity for those seeking a credible and qualified expert witness. The ease and speed with which all information is disseminated today is critical and pertinent, as is the ease with which older data can be uncovered.
When vetting a potential expert witness, investigators must look at websites, social media accounts, written articles and speeches, and even personal relationships, friendships or affiliations that might be construed by the opposing side as unfriendly, damaging or disqualifying.
One of the first steps in interviewing a potential witness should be to ask outright about such issues. But any answer, of course, must be confirmed through diligent research.
Finally, the personality and demeanor of a potential expert witness is all-important. The way an individual presents themselves, reacts to questions and frames responses can influence a jury, and sway perception either positively or negatively. A “perfect” expert would be able to read body language and sense the reaction to his or her testimony; but that is an elusive quality.
In addition to a demonstrated ability to be objective and unbiased, the expert should be able to field tough questions without becoming rattled or defensive, and must be able to think quickly and deal with the unexpected.
Selecting the right expert witness is imperative. A vital component of trial preparation involves extensive research and investigation to confirm that expert witnesses are the “right fit” in terms of character, qualifications, expertise, personality, credibility and time to work with our clients. Expedient Medicolegal Services has built a reputation on the ability to meet the needs of insurers, attorneys and other entities that use our services.