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Expenses Included in Expert Witness Contracts

Contracts between the lawyer and the expert witness have provisions for expenses and payment that the professional will acquire through his or her services for the claim or case in court. Some of these are for travel while others cover out-of-pocket costs such as testing, copying papers and developing pictures that increase the overall expense of the experience.

Some of the expenses that the expert witness will require compensation for include lodging, travel, documentation, testifying,
the report, testing and any additional items he or she may pay for in regard to the case. Some experts must travel far to get to the courthouse to attend the case and testify before the judge or jury panel. This may require a rental car, staying at a hotel, gas and food. Many lawyers will sign a retention contract that provides for these needs as well. Some contractual agreements will require some time to negotiate the fees and other provisions.

The Retention Contract

For all included expenses and fees the lawyer will pay the expert witness for, the contract will specify amounts and periods of payment. Some jobs with a case take longer than others. If the expert requires monetary compensation before the case finishes,
the lawyer may need to make arrangements for periods as detailed in the contract. Negotiations over these matters take time and explanation of what the expert will expect and how payment will occur. Other professionals may wait until his or her services are complete, and the expert is no longer necessary for the claim to progress forward.

Primary Expenses

Many experts find that the relationship with a lawyer or client leads to nonpayment for services rendered. It is important to hold the law firm to the contract and not a client. Collections for primary expenses usually come from a settlement or lawsuit that is successful in court. However, the lawyer may pay the professional separately or at certain periods depending on the retention contract. Of these are the out-of-pocket costs that often require repayment quickly if these matters are expensive such as long-distance traveling, lodging for weeks or months, gas expenses in rental cars and buying food.

Many experts have a clause that provides payment before the deposition or when creating a report. This report often requires time, energy and sometimes expense when testing evidence or using a lab separately from the claim. Some lab equipment has a rental fee, and other testing methods need certain materials that the expert may need to purchase outside of the standard situation. These are primary expenses when connected to the claim and as part of the report for the judge and lawyers. Some professionals may need to hold the report back to ensure payment occurs.

The Language in the Retention Contract

Often, an expert witness has issues with the contract specifications or when the lawyer does not send all the necessary paperwork for the claim. Sometimes, the issue is with the retention contract documents that are not available. Other times, the expert may need to negotiate the expenses with the lawyer in addition to the usual payment. These matters generally revolve around the secondary expenses that are usually out of pocket for the professional. Lab fees, rental expense and minor costs usually add up over the course of a claim with the plaintiff. Then, it is a matter of communicating the problem with the lawyer
who may become too busy for in-person contact.

A secondary expense for an expert witness may also arise through storage of documents. The professional may need to rent a storage unit or a similar space that costs him or her each month. If the expert does not need the material at the end of the case, it may remain in storage or go through the shredder. However, the storage unit is an out of pocket expense the professional will pay to hold the documentation. Any other equipment to handle, process, copy or destroy the paperwork may also cost the expert. These matters are often covered through the retention contract in secondary or tertiary expenses. The expert will need payment periodically or at the end of the case.

The Expert and the Retention Contract

The professional hired for the case will need to express all expenses he or she will require payment for and reimbursement when paying for items initially. The negotiations over these matters may alter the wording to provide for future needs if the expert must pay for additional items.

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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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