July 27, 2016
What you Should Know About Being an Expert Witness
Expert testimony can be an incredibly important component of any court case. Whether this expert testimony is given before a judge or in a deposition, the process is filled with pitfalls. The more prepared the expert witness is, the more valuable their input will be.
Don’t Allow Expert Testimony to be Limited by “Yes or No” Questions
Trial lawyers love to trap any expert witness with yes or no questions. The witness can foil this common court case tactic by refusing to answer with a one-word response. Instead, tell the attorney that such an answer would be incomplete and misleading. The opposing attorney cannot insist on a yes or no answer without coming across as unreasonable.
Yes, An Expert Witness Gets Paid for Working on a Court Case
It’s inevitable that the opposing lawyer in the court case will ask how much you charged for your expert testimony. He’s trying to make it sound like you’ll offer your opinion on any court case as long as money is involved. Clarify that you’re not being paid for your testimony, but for your time, just as he is.
Ask for Clarification
When it comes to expert testimony, opposing counsel loves to look for ways to get the witness to make contradictory statements. Sometimes, they do this by asking confusing, convoluted questions. Since a court case can often turn on a small, specific detail, it is always appropriate to ask for clarification. Respond that you don’t understand, and then ask for the question to be rephrased.
Think Before You Speak
You’ve been asked for expert testimony and it’s important that you come across as an authoritative witness. Resist the temptation to quickly rattle off answers. This gives the attorney you’re working with time to object and for you to formulate a thoughtful response.