Accident Investigation Expert Witness On Early Examination Of Evidence Part 1

In Working with Experts Part I, accident investigation expert witness R. Craig Jerner, PhD, PE, writes:

..Put your expert on board EARLY. Don’t wait until literally “the last minute.” How many times have I heard, “Dr. Jerner, I need your help; these are the facts; can you help me? I have to designate an expert today or tomorrow!” Attorneys who wait until “the last minute” are shortchanging themselves and their clients by not utilizing an expert’s years of experience….Some, but certainly not all of the advantages of getting your expert “on board early” are:

1. Early examination of evidence might confirm (or deny) that viable litigation exists.

In the recent past, a plaintiff attorney client sent me evidence concerning an accident which happened about two years prior. His expert report deadline was rapidly approaching. After a preliminary visual examination and limited laboratory testing, I called and posed several important questions for the attorney to ask his client, and also suggested the possibility of an additional defendant. Several weeks later, the attorney called back with word to stop my investigation. He had found that his client had “lied to him” and the facts he/we thought to be true were not. I suspect that numerous hours of the attorneys valuable time and considerable resources had been spent needlessly pursuing a “dog that wouldn’t hunt” for maybe as long as two years!