Archives for February 2015

Does My Case Indicate a Need for Expert Witness Testimony?

When preparing for trial, you will have to decide whether an expert witness will increase the odds of prevailing. In some cases, expert witnesses provide clarity on complex issues to a jury. In others, their testimony is unnecessary, as the facts may be able to speak for themselves.

The primary purpose of hiring a legal expert witness is to simplify confusing facts or strengthen inferences. In complicated cases involving legal disputes over reasonableness of legal fees and similar concerns, it can be quite advantageous for you to obtain a legal expert witness. An objective opinion, supported by industry norms and other evidence, may be just what is needed to have a judge or jury decide in your favor.

Test the theory of your case on other attorneys, as well as friends and family (without breaking any privileges, of course). By doing so, you can gauge their reactions to see how well they understand the facts of the case. If they appear confused and ask for a good bit of additional information, it may be a sign that an expert in the field is necessary to help a judge or jury draw conclusions.

A legal expert witness might also be used to rebut testimony from the opposing side’s legal expert witness. Your expert witness can be crucial for showing weaknesses in the opposing party’s case, which will cast doubt on their legal theories and arguments while boosting your client’s position. In addition, such knowledge will help you prepare well for trial.

What Are the Two Most Important Things to Know When Selecting an Expert Witness?

If you believe that your legal expert witness will be called at trial, you need to spend some time selecting the right individual. There are two critical aspects to selecting the right witness for your case: finding someone who is qualified but also an individual with expertise that mirrors the issues involved in your case. This is because these qualifications allow such an individual to provide accurate and informed testimony, but also because he or she should be someone with which the jury can identify.

This aspect of demeanor is why you or your attorney should meet with the expert witness in person before agreeing to work together. You need to be looking for someone who has a pleasant and authoritative overall demeanor with no irritating habits that could be distracting to a judge or jury. You also should look for someone with solid communication skills who can relay complex ideas to a lay audience. All of these factors are important in your selection of an expert witness.

If your legal expert witness is not expected to actually testify in trial, there are other considerations you may look at instead. In a consulting role helping counsel in the pre-trial stages, for example, a legal expert witness would not need to be as qualified in terms of explaining complex ideas to a general audience.

Bear in mind that different expert witnesses may arrive at different conclusions in your case, so it is important to identify someone who supports theories and opinions in line with your own.

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