A “how to” guide for locating expert med witnesses that can handle the pressures of a courtroom setting.
As a personal injury attorney, you may need to tap into the expertise of an outside witness occasionally in order to establish or refute negligence in a case. Medical experts are commonly used in personal injury law as they can break down complex issues and diagnoses for the court in order to show how a patient has been impacted by an injury.
In order for an expert witness to contribute significantly to your case, she/he needs to be knowledgeable about the case in question but also appear as a credible expert witness on the stand. If the other side can successfully tear down the credibility of your expert witness, then his/her impact on your case can do more harm than good. Read on to learn more about some key tips for identifying an expert witness that won’t get torn apart in court.
Vet Credentials Carefully
In order to be seen as an expert in the view of the court, your witness must have some academic or professional experience that extends beyond the average person. You will need to establish how these credentials contribute to an expert’s right to speak on the issues of the case, so finding someone with an established resume and plenty of background in this area is essential. Any expert witness worth their salt should be able to provide you with this kind of information easily.
Seek Someone with Experience
One of the best ways to find an expert witness who will be comfortable and confident in the situation is to identify someone who has served in this role before. While an individual with decades of experience in the medical field can be helpful, she/he should be comfortable on the stand. This involves presenting testimony for your side of the case as well as holding up under the pressure of cross examination, so be sure that the individual you select has experience serving in this role.
Give the Expert Practice
An expert witness should also have practice with you as the attorney asking your questions as well as potential questions from the other side. You will get a better sense of an expert’s credibility and ability to withstand the pressure of being on the witness stand with this sample testimony. It can also help you plan ahead for potential snags.
Take note if the individual appears uncomfortable during practice rounds. This could lead to poor testimony if left unchecked. (Bear in mind that the expert witness should be prepared to answer questions from your side as well as hold up to the cross examination by the other side.) Resolving this issue as early as possible will help build confidence for both you and your witness regarding your case.
One way to identify an expert witness who will hold up on the stand is to work with a personal reference from someone else. Knowing if a witness has served in this role before (and how they performed) is beneficial for narrowing down your list, especially since someone who has already been an expert witness shows credibility in at least one similar case. In other words, references give you a personal window into another person who approves of this expert witness’ testimony and would vouch for him/her.