In Finding the Cream of the Crop: Hiring an Expert Witness construction site expert witness William Gulya, Jr., President & CEO, Middlesex Trenching Company, writes:
There are multiple ways to locate the expert you need, such as referral agencies, online and print directories, and searching by keyword on the Internet. When you find an expert who at first glance seems to be what you are looking for, contact them and delve deeper into his or her qualifications. The responsibility to verify that the expert is qualified and will meet your case needs is yours. Be sure to investigate the background of the expert, and ask for references. Once you have located several names by any of the above methods and have performed your due diligence, how do you decide which expert is really what you are looking for, the right one for you and your particular case?
Interviewing the Expert
It is practically impossible to meet every potential expert personally, so most interviews are conducted over the telephone. Initiate your conversation by disclosing the names of the key players such as your client’s name, the names of your adversary and their client, your firm and contact information and the jurisdiction of the case. Describe the pertinent facts and circumstances of the case so the expert can check for conflicts of interest and advise if he or she feels the matter falls within their area of expertise.
Assuming the expert does not have a conflict of interest, believes he or she is qualified to opine and is available to be retained by you, there are important questions you should ask prior to retaining the expert, such as:
1. How long has the expert been in practice?
2. How many times has the expert been retained?
3. How many times has the expert testified in court and/or been deposed?
4. What percentage of testimony has been for the plaintiff/defense?
5. Has the expert ever been disqualified as an expert?
6. Does the expert maintain files on opposing experts?
7. Will the expert assist you in preparing what discovery items will be important to him or her?
8. Will the expert suggest deposition questions you need to ask?
9. Has the expert worked on a similar case to yours?
10. Has the expert published any articles or books?
11. If the field requires licensing does the expert have a current license?
12. Does the expert have a client list of references he or she can provide?
William Gulya, Jr., Middlesex Trenching Company, specializes in excavation & construction site preparation and is author of the book, “The Straight Truth: The Life of an Expert Witness.”