Expert Witnesses: What are they and how do I use one?
There are many instances where you may need an expert witness in your case. Some of those instances may include health specialists, financial experts, business evaluators, etc. Finding an expert may be the easy part, but actually using them at your hearing can feel overwhelming and difficult. Here is a step-by-step process for what to do during your hearing if you hire an expert witness.
When questioning your expert witness, you want to first establish his or her background. You will ask questions including, what is your name, where did you go to school, what degrees do you have, where have you worked, and what was your pervious job positions. Next, you will want to question your witness’ experience.
Specifically, you are questioning your expert witness’ history as an expert witness. You may ask questions such as, have you ever been an expert witness? How often have you been one? Have you been an expert witness for what you are here today? Once you have established that your witness is an expert, you must admit your expert witness. This means you must ask the judge to acknowledge that your witness is an expert. You will ask the judge, “I move to admit (expert’s name) as an expert witness). The judge will then likely admit the witness as an expert. The judge may ask the opposing side if they object. If they do, be prepared to argue in your favor.
Now that you have established your witness as an expert, you can proceed to question your expert witness about why they are there and what they have done. Ask your witness what their conclusion is. For example, why do they think that you will not be able to have a job, or what is the value of the business you hired them to value. You then want to ask the witness questions as to how he or she got to that conclusion. You may want to ask about the methods or approaches they used. You also might want to ask what information they used or relied on.
If the opposing side has an expert witness, you will want to ask your witness what their opinion is of the opposing sides value, or report, etc. Ask them if they reviewed the opposing side’s documents. Then ask if it is different than your witnesses’ opinion and why is it different.
Now keep in mind, if the opposing side has an expert witness, you will likely want to cross examine (question) that person. You may want to ruin that person’s credibility. If they do not meet the standards of being an expert, have never testified as an expert, or do not have knowledge in the field they are testifying in, you may be able to even throw them out as an expert witness. Make sure the witness actually qualifies as an expert.
If the judge does admit the witness as an expert, you need to be prepared to question the witness. You will want to ask questions, including, how do you know your client, how long have you known them, how much did they pay you, have you previously worked with him or her. These questions will show if the witness is biased. You can then ask the witness about their report or evaluation, depending on what they were hired to do. You should review their report or evaluation in great detail before the trial. Make sure to point out any errors or discrepancies. You want to discredit the witness’ opinion by pointing out their flaws.