In Four things an attorney should know about retaining an expert witness, construction site expert witness William Gulya, Jr., President & CEO, Middlesex Trenching Company, writes:
The decision to retain an expert witness is an important factor in any litigation. Strategic selection and communication with the expert can have a substantial impact on the case, from settlement options to court room testimony. The opposite is also true — the wrong choice of an expert witness can result in poor or negative results. I have compiled four recommendations for attorneys from an expert witness perspective.
1. Take Action Early Many cases do not require an expert at all. However, once the use of an expert becomes foreseeable through fact evidence or because your adversary has declared he or she is utilizing an expert witness, you should retain and get your expert up to speed on the case as soon as possible.
Many attorneys wait too long. There is a distinct benefit to retaining an expert early in the case. The expert can advise on both the strengths and vulnerabilities you may be faced with specific to the area of his area of expertise, pointing out what you may not have considered.
If you wait to retain an expert until the last minute, you may not be able to retain the best candidate for your case. This is particularly true in specialties within an area of expertise. In these narrow disciplines attorneys have to act quickly in order to engage the best expert before opposing counsel has done so. Attorneys have also lost out on the best expert by waiting and then requesting a review of volumes of data and evidence in an unrealistic time frame, leaving the expert insufficient time to properly prepare, and he has to decline.