Cases can be won and lost on the strength of expert witnesses. But what if you’ve never hired one before? Here are a few rules of thumb when dealing with expert witnesses.
Do: Choose an expert with authority.
The ideal witness will have years of experience in their chosen field. They’ll also have the qualifications to prove it. It doesn’t matter if your witness is one of the smartest people alive; if they don’t possess official documents that say so, the jury won’t have any reason to believe them. Make sure that you hire a witness with strong credibility.
Don’t: Choose an expert with something to hide.
It’s important to do your homework when it comes to vetting your witnesses. You don’t have to automatically dismiss them just because of a youthful crime or minor brush with the law, but you’ll want to know about these things in advance so that you can prepare for them. The other side will definitely try to exploit the knowledge.
Do: Find a specialist.
One of the key components of choosing an expert witness is making sure that they fulfill the “expert” part. They should be a specialist in their field or in handling your particular type of case. For example, if you’re involved in a lawsuit about a theme park accident, you should be looking for a park expert witness.
Don’t: Hire someone who is all flash and no substance.
You’ve already learned about the importance of having a witness with good credentials, but an impressive resume shouldn’t be the only thing that they bring to the table. It’s entirely possible to look good on paper but have problems in real life. If your witness has a tendency to sweat through questions or stutter around their answers, it doesn’t matter how many degrees that they’ve obtained. The jury won’t think of them as trustworthy.
These are just a few things to keep in mind as you look for expert witnesses. It can be a long road until you find the witnesses that are right for your particular case, but they’ll be worth it in the end, so keep going.