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Expert Witnesses

Common Legal Problems with Being an Expert Witness

Expert witnesses can face similar legal problems as other professionals depending on the situation, and some of these include professional or sexual misconduct, interfering with an investigation, breach of contract and misleading or misrepresentation of the facts. Some legal concerns arise during a case or when the professional hired by the lawyer causes problems during a case.

Misconduct in the Investigation

The expert witness hired for the case uses his or her opinion based on the facts of the case to explain or give a clearer picture of what happened. Some of this knowledge and experience can clear up confusion while other details given in presented testimony are solely opinion rooted in the facts. If the expert has an ulterior motive, he or she can engage in some type of misconduct that can cause problems for everyone involved. These issues can use the facts and twist them so that the courtroom is not looking at the truth any longer. However, misconduct can also occur in a sexual manner or through breaching a contract and committing professional misconduct that can throw the whole case off.

Sexual Misconduct with an Expert Witness

Some experts hired for cases provide services to the client rather than testimony
in the courtroom. Some of these situations involve a counselor, psychiatrist or psychologist or a therapist that assists with children or a family. If the expert engages in sexual misconduct, it can affect the client even more and lead to severe complications over time. This is a common legal concern with certain expert witnesses that have a more familiar role with the client than the lawyer. These issues can even lead to further lawsuits against the professional, a loss of the professional’s license or permit and possible criminal charges.

Information from the Lawyer

The expert witness should not rely on information given by anyone without verifying it. However, doing so with the lawyer can lead to a common legal concern if there is no confirmation that the details are correct or accurate. Sometimes, these issues can affect the expert negatively or even in a legal way when there are challenges or possible charges against the expert for certain illegal or criminal behavior. Other legal concerns could affect the career or the prospects of the expert when relying on information from any source that does not verify the facts.

The Truth in the Case

Some legal concerns that are common among professionals exist in telling the truth and remaining honest in the testimony presented in the courtroom. The expert witness must remember that he or she is there to remain unbiased and provide the facts in the case. This requires giving opinions based on fact or scientific methods already proven to have reliable results. Sticking to the truth is difficult if the facts are not present, and some professionals that deviate from the honest information can face legal concerns later or even problems that pop up through legal ramifications.

Contracts with the Expert Witness

There are common problems for most professionals regarding contractual obligations and possible breaches of contracts. If the expert signs a contract that requires certain services he or she does not perform, this could lead to a breach. However, if the professional encounters a breach because of what the lawyer does or does not do, he or she may need to sue the lawyer in these situations. Contractual obligations can extend to before, during and after the case. Some also involve the activities of the expert and payment received from the lawyer. Other clauses can explain what to do with a breach.

Payment and clauses regarding repayment for what the expert uses of his or her own funds are important features of contracts that the expert witness will sign. These contracts are important to ensure that certain services are given to the case and performed based on the relevant material. Some processes are necessary based on the case such as a report. Other situations call for a presentation of testimony and opinions in the courtroom. The contract may stipulate some services and only hint at
others, but the legal concern revolves around possible breaches in the contract.

Progressing through Legal Concerns with the Expert Witness

The expert may need to review his or her situation and determine the best course of action when confronted with legal concerns and problems that may arise. Generally, communication with the lawyer can help avoid various obstacles and increase the use of the professional or the case.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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