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Working with an Expert Witness - What You Need to Know

Working with an expert witness hired for a specific case requires an understanding of what this professional will do during the case, before the courtroom and while in the court. Having a strong relationship with this expert is a key to a better experience and to a greater attempt at success in the claim or case for the client.

The Testing Process

Expert witnesses usually use proven test methods to acquire results from the tests they use on evidence. These processes will assist in understanding a connection with the details of the case, the problems that may exist and the defendant’s association with the injuries of the plaintiff. When these methods are in line with other peers in the same subject or field of study, the expert will have less difficulty in using results through a standard error rate that are reliable and available for use in the courtroom. The lawyer should expect to receive information about the tests and results and how they connect to the case.

The Expertise

The experience of the expert witness is important for the case, the subject material and to ensure there are few or no challenges to his or her relevance to the courtroom proceedings. If the
case has more than one possible avenue for the expert witness to testify about, this could provide more than one professional or multiple opinions that have relevance. However, an expert in sciences should not testify about a field of study that is far out of scope to the scientific field. Medical professionals should not testify about economics unless they also have a background in the same subjects.

Qualifications and Education

The expert will need to defend his or her qualifications in the courtroom against the opposing legal team and before the judge. If these qualifications are lacking or are not relevant to the subject matter, an objection or challenge may remove this professional as a designated expert witness. It is important that the expert work together with the lawyer to form answers to questions that the opposing legal counsel may ask to either object to the professional or for a later challenge. Defending qualifications may also require explaining background information and the educational field or by removing confusing details that may better detail certain items.

The Lack of Bias

While an expert hired for one side may work with the lawyer and explain matters to the courtroom in favor for the legal team, an expert witness that works for the subject matter above the lawyer should have a lack of bias in testimony and testing. This could lead to information that the legal team does not want exposed in the courtroom. However, some testing and results do not support the argument. Other times, the testimony given will not support either side but reveal details that lead to a completely different argument. This lack of bias is an important aspect the expert should possess.

Quick Communication

One of the primary concerns in cases is communication and how an inability to adapt quickly could harm the case. The expert may need materials, access to witnesses or even contact with the lawyer or client for information with evidence. When this professional works with the items or subject material from the claim or case, he or she may need to transmit results to a lab, to the lawyer or to a team to support a theory or to increase the strength of the case. This usually requires a faster communication process than many legal professionals have with clients. The importance in quick exchanges could help to increase both relationships and how the details could assist other forms of evidence.

Expert Testimony

The expert will present testimony that usually follows the pattern of testing and results. However, this professional may also clear up confusion about the subject materials and also discuss certain hazards. With some cases, the expert witness will educate the lawyer about what occurs with the science and testing methods. Others will work with the lawyer to present an argument based on the tests, results and evidence for the entire case.

The expert will need to work on presenting materials based on the type of jury in the courtroom. The lawyer may need to coach the professional in how to do so if he or she lacks experience. Additional processes may exist if the expert needs to learn local jargon or how to dumb down details for the jury or judge.

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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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