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The Relationship between Lawyer and Expert Witnesses and Its Effect on a Case

The lawyer and the expert witness often built a strong relationship to progress through the case and succeed with hard work and determination. However, when the professionals are unable to work together, the client may suffer, and the effect upon the case itself is often negative with severe consequences.

Lawyers hire expert witnesses for cases to help change confusing elements to understandable aspects of the claim. If the legal representative is unable to form a relationship with this professional, he or she may find difficulty in proceeding and keeping the expert informed of various pieces of information. Additionally, he or she may not understand the testimony of the professional or know what he or she may say in the courtroom. This takes away preparations, and could lead to an unsuccessful conclusion. This is detrimental to the client, and the claim fails when neither party are able to work together. It could even lead to a Daubert challenge that leads to the expert’s disqualification as an expert witness.

The expert hired for the case may also have other tasks to perform before he or she provides testimony such as a psychological assessment of the
plaintiff or defendant. In family law cases, the professional may need to examine the situation, determine if there is an unfit parent or if any children have been abused or neglected. In other claims, the expert may need to connect evidence to the defendant or plaintiff so the judge or jury better understand why the plaintiff should be awarded compensation. This may even lead the professional to interview other professionals for assistance.

The Relationship Explained

When the lawyer goes through the litigation procedures, he or she may determine that an expert is needed for some aspect that is either confusing or needs help in establishing such as liability, a connection to the defendant or to prove that the plaintiff has been wronged. This may involve a duty of care through a company or healthcare professional or injuries caused by the defendant intentionally. Liability and proving the other party is responsible for the damage is often confusing to the jury or needs clarification for the judge. The expert is hired for the relevant subject, and a relationship is formed between him or her and the lawyer. Through a strong relationship, it is possible to move through each stage of the claim successfully.

Experts hired for litigation must prove their credentials, qualifications, relevance to the subject matter of the case and ensure their testimony and methods are reliable. When working with the lawyer, constant communication is needed so that any changes are understood immediately. Additionally, the expert and lawyer must work closely in certain cases, and a stronger relationship may permit each to move forward as one team. This is beneficial to the case itself and for the client. When these two are able to work off each other and know the evidence, subject and details completely, this may increase confidence with the jury in what is said and shown in the courtroom.

The Effect on the Case

When the relationship between expert and lawyer is not a strong or positive one, communication may dwindle, the two may not understand each other and the consequences could lead to a negative conclusion to the case. This is possible when the lawyer does not have enough time to interview the expert to determine if he or she is the right fit. Other times, the expert may not exhibit his or her true characteristics until after he or she has been hired and starts progressing through his or her processes. The detriment to the case with a weak or conflict driven relationship may lead the client into litigation against the lawyer due to the loss of the claim.

/When the relationship is strong, and communication is open, it is possible that both are able to work together to continue the claim. Sometimes, these two parties are able to interview witnesses together, information is exchanged so the lawyer understands the expert. Jargon and processes are explained to the lawyer and he or she is able to keep up with the detail in a report or through testimony. When these two parties are in sync, it increases the strength of the claim. It is possible through a strong and reliable relationship that the lawyer and expert are able to explain the details to the judge or jury and they may deliberate appropriately.

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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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