Accident Reconstruction Expert Witness On Preparing Expert Testimony Part 7

In Preparing and Presenting Expert Testimony, traffic engineer and accident reconstruction expert witness Lawrence Levine writes:

Many times the lawyer for the defense will try to time his response to a pending case until after the plaintiff’s expert has submitted his opinions. This way he is sure to answer with specificity the claims that are being presented. As often, plaintiff attorneys will request that an expert not prepare a report until after a verbal opinion is rendered over the phone or in person. This is because all documents in an engineer’s file, done in preparation for a case, are discoverable at trial. This includes correspondence and e-mails. It is wise to verbally discuss with the attorney the need for a report, the due date, and the format in which to prepare it. This does not and should not create a bias on the part of the engineer.

If the lawyer asks the expert to prepare an opinion based “solely” upon photographs, depositions, or a selected grouping of documents he or she supplies, it is in the expert’s best interest to maintain his or her reputation; to demand the right to seek out additional information if necessary, including site visits, testing or whatever is felt to be necessary in order to render an opinion on the matter. To do less would be a disservice to the client, the plaintiff, the agency and the court. It opens the expert to the potentially embarrassing question later “Why didn’t you do this or that?” or “Isn’t it accepted practice in the field of accident reconstruction and investigation to do this or that?” Just as the lawyer must prepare his case, the expert he is depending upon must be prepared and thoroughly know his subject and the case.