What to Expect from a First-Time Expert Witness


Person giving testimony in court Everyone must start somewhere when becoming a medical expert witness. Being an expert witness entails a lot more than just showing up and telling what you know. You want the person you are working with to understand the methods of a trial from courtroom rules, legal rules and privileges, and proper decorum when testifying. Here are some things that virtually no one in expert witness services knows when they first start testifying.


An Expert May Reveal Too Much

Most expert witnesses are involved for more than just money. They want to help in a case by imparting their repository of information and knowledge, but sometimes, that zeal to share knowledge can end up hurting the side they are testifying for. It also can lead to them being tripped up in trial, either in testimony directly or during cross-examination. You must emphasize to them that they should only disclose as much information as is needed to aid the case. If the other side decides to dig deeper and ask them about it under oath, that is one thing, but there is nothing gained by helping the other side do its job.


They Are Under Oath

Sometimes the desire to help a case is so strong that they might be tempted to fudge the truth a bit to make a point. They should not. Not only will it likely be discovered by the opposing side, thus discrediting their testimony outright, it also might prejudice the judge against your side, which can have ramifications far beyond their testimony; just about everyone will discredit them because of the embellishment. With new experts, it is imperative to drum into their heads to offer facts, and not opinion, prognostications, or pontifications.


They Do Not Understand Their Role

Depending on your case, an expert’s role is to consult or advise before and during litigation and/or to testify. How much advice they offer, or how much of that advice you decide to take advantage of, depends on the type of court case you are involved with. The same applies to their testimony. If, for instance, your case concerns a botched surgery, the advice and testimony your expert witness will give will be much more detailed than if you are using them to verify injuries due to a fall. Regardless, their purpose is to help your case by establishing or denying a fact on an issue in your case.


Lawyer questioning witness They Do Not Understand Privilege

Many times, new experts will assume the conversation they have pertaining to your case with you or your attorneys is covered under privilege. This is not always the case. Much depends on whether they are testifying or just consulting. Consulting experts do not need to be disclosed to the opposing party, but experts that testify and anything they produce in support of your case will.


Obviously, experts who do not have to be disclosed will not necessarily be found in discovery, but the work, research, and history of listed experts will in all likelihood be discovered. This not only must be taken into consideration when deciding to use an expert, but it also must be explained to a new expert, as anything they produce can be used in trial. That can lead to opinions or histories that do not reflect well upon your case.


One of the first questions you need to ask when you decide to retain a lawyer for a medical malpractice suit is “Do I need an expert witness?” The next question has to be about their experience and how they need to be prepared for your unique circumstances. For more information on medical experts, browse Reliable Clinical Experts website or give them a call (855) 963-3625


Everyone must start somewhere when becoming a medical expert witness. Being an expert witness entails a lot more than just showing up and telling what you know. You want the person you are working with to understand the methods of a trial from courtroom rules, legal rules and privileges, and proper decorum when testifying. Here are some things that virtually no one in expert witness services knows when they first start testifying.