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Typical Fees Included in an Expert Witness Fee Agreement

When retaining an expert witness for a case, the lawyer usually negotiates a contract between the two professionals with certain aspects of financial matters that will detail the fees involved and what the expert witness can expect in payment. There are particular sections of this agreement that detail the relationship and what services will allot which fees.

Setting the Fees in the Agreement

The expert witness hired for the case has greater power and flexibility over how to set the fees of the agreement. The individual can have fees billed through hourly pay or set a certain number of hours for various tasks. Other experts will charge the lawyer for a half or full day when at a deposition or when needed in the courtroom. Some fees are per diem because of the remote location the professional must travel to for the case. If the expert is in high demand, he or she may charge for a full 24 hour day because of the need to travel long distances.

Typical Fee Sections

The agreement between the lawyer and the expert often has sections that explain each fee and various details. These can include the consultation for the case, travel expenses, appearances in the courtroom, deposition and trial testimony
and small errands. Some will have fees for copying paperwork that takes hours. Others will need sections for storage of large amounts of papers for the case. Travel expenses can have a single section explaining both short-term and long-distance trips. The expert may need to add new sections for unique aspects of the case as well.

The Engagement Fee

The engagement of the expert witness requires a certain fee based on the relationship and the case. The consultation is separate from the engagement of the professional, has different fees and could retain the expert after the initial engagement. This is often a non-refundable form of deposit which other fees will subtract from after use. The engagement fee paid to the expert will then provide the ability to have the expert testify or provide reports for the case. Other errands, actions and activities generally are available and occur once this fee is given to the professional.

The Consultant Fee

The consultant expectations are more hourly tasks performed for the specific agreement between the lawyer and the expert witness. This could exist in a salary or special condition, but many experts will work through an hourly rate. Some duties include analyses of reports or materials, calculations of numbers or damages, conclusions for the case, preparations of relevant reports and travel time to get to the court. Fees often bill per a certain period of time such as each quarter hour. Additional fees could increase this section based on deposition or trial testimony and additional compensation for hourly work.

Travel Fees

When an expert witness is part of an investigation, trial case or the entire case, he or she will usually need to travel to different locations. These fees often add up significantly if the expert lives far away or needs to constantly travel for different errands and processes. Sometimes, the lab is in a different location than where the lawyer will perform certain tasks. The client may also have the case in a state not near where the expert lives. These journeys take time, gas and lodging. The entire experience may require payment to compensate for the expense to the professional.

All Other Fees

Lab processes, investigation, preparations for the case and testing all require costs. If the expert is the scientific type, he or she will need the use of a lab and materials to test the evidence. When consulting about something specific that requires research, the expert may charge per hour for this process. Preparations for the case in the courtroom could demand electronic setup, costs for purchasing software, hardware and other components. If the expert takes surveillance footage or photos, he or she will have added costs for these actions and for all items purchased to accomplish these tasks. Some will need compensation for air travel and reproduction of documentation.

The Legal Agreement

When negotiating fees with the lawyer, the expert may need to include additional matters that are unique. These two parties will need to settle on the costs and compensation required for each matter. The sections should provide details about the fees and the actions the expert will take for the case. Through the end of negotiations, the two will have a better understanding of what these fees entail.

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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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