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Contract Provisions for Expert Witness Agreements

The various provisions in the expert witness contract usually deal with the compensation a professional will receive, the statement of services and comprehensive details of which items the expert will receive payment for with the case. These contracts retain the services of the professional for the specific claim or case and a new one is generally necessary for a different case.

The expert retention contract usually includes extensive provisional details about the services the expert will perform for the lawyer in the courtroom and during testing. The services explain that payment received will happen at certain points or after the case finishes. The professional will engage in testing of the evidence and provide feedback and opinions about the results that connect the testing to the claim or the defendant. These provisions should have clearly defined sections that avoid confusion about the relationship between lawyer and expert.

The Scope of Services

The primary provision in the expert witness contract contains the scope of services the professional shall render for the case. These encompass what he or she will do during the presentation of testimony, how and what evidence to test and how to present the findings to the courtroom.
The scope of services should remain within the parameters of the subject material. The lawyer should refrain from asking questions outside the domain of the field of study the expert has received training in and has experience with. Staying within the scope of services should provide the expert with the ability to remain relevant to the subject matter.

Retention Contract Provisions of Pay

No matter what the expert does for the legal team, he or she will need provisions in the contract that cover all manner of expenses. Some experts must copy so many files that the compensation for these documents is high. Others must travel a long distance to arrive at a court that is out of state or across the country. The car rental, gas and lodging for the court case generally have specific provisions in the expert witness contract that specify a limit or full compensation for the expenses. These are generally in addition to the scope of services the professional will supply.

Fees and Expenses

A retainer agreement for the expert may provide a provision for fees and other expenses beyond the standard. Some professionals are on retainer in case the legal team needs them at a later date. Some receive compensation on an hourly rate to ensure payment transfers to the expert. Other provisions exist to cover out-of-court time and additional matters not usually part of a claim. Mailing, meals, other materials and even nonstandard time should all exist in certain fees and expenses provisions. The expert witness may need to negotiate these matters with the lawyer before signing the contract.

Other Matters

The expert witness contract will have the scope of services, but other provisions are necessary to explain if additional services will become part of the proceeding. This may include the use of technology, visual aids and materials that the professional will need to procure, rent or purchase. Generally, the expert will accomplish this and then receive compensation as reimbursement for the purchase or rent. Additional time is often needed to set up and use the equipment. Some experts may need more time to study or become accustomed to the tools or devices. This is especially important if the expert has never used such equipment before.

Rates of compensation are often part of the retention contract along with additional fees, expenses and agreements for terms of payment. Other provisions may specify the rate of pay, how money will transfer and if any wait will become necessary based on the litigation or criminal case. If the expert must create a report before the case proceeds, he or she may use this as a bargaining chip to ensure that payment is available before progressing through the case or claim.

Conflicts after the Contract

If the expert runs into any conflicts with payment or reimbursement for items he or she already paid for, he or she may need to review the contract again to ensure that the other party is held to the terms of providing funds. The lawyer may need to wait until the client has the money to supply the expert with payment, but the contract should give the professional the necessary assurance of income based on the provisions both lawyer and expert agreed to.

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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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