The Ins and Outs of an Expert Witness

The role of an expert witness can end up being instrumental during litigation, as legal proceedings often depend upon their technical knowledge or skillset for clarification on the matter at hand. When the facts of a case are rather complex, the court relies on the specialized knowledge of the expert witness. In doing so, the expert is able to provide beneficial evidence, strengthen the case, and thus present trusted credibility to the fact finders. Expert witnesses are also used in a consultative manner outside of the courtroom. In this scenario, the expert provides critical education to counsel on the issues at hand, arming them to more adequately support their case.

Typically, an inventory of documents is prepared for the expert witness to go over. Attorneys often do this to control the information provided to the expert, keeping their litigation strategy intact. The expert witness is tasked to deliver an independent expert opinion based on the information that they are given. This report is used as evidence before the court and often lays the foundation for counsel’s argument. In many cases, an expert witness’s report will open the doors for an early dispute resolution.

Some of the most common types of experts used to testify in court are as follows:

  • Forensic Accountants
  • Forensic Engineers
  • Forensic Scientists
  • Forensic Psychologists
  • Attending Physicians
  • Employment Consultants
  • Healthcare Experts

Criminal cases typically turn to forensic scientists, forensic psychologists, and attending physicians, whereas civil cases lean on forensic accountants, forensic engineers, healthcare experts, employment consultants, and attending physicians. Regardless of their specific expertise, Federal Rule of Evidence 702 (FRE) requires that the expert be properly qualified on the topic of testimony. This qualification can come in the form of specialized training, education, or even practical experience within the subject matter that relates to the case at hand.

At Ellrich, Neal, Smith & Stohlman, P.A., our expert witness engagements include any situation where a member of the firm renders a professional opinion in deposition or at trial. The expert’s opinion and work product are subject to discovery and are open to cross-examination. In litigation consulting engagements, our firm is typically retained by the attorney and all work product and opinions are privileged (the opposition doesn’t get to see it) and are provided solely to assist the attorney in the legal handling of the case. Contact our Miami or Palm Beach Gardens office today to learn more!