In When the Phone Rings … Twelve Questions for Prospective Expert Witness Assignments, insurance expert witness Kevin M. Quinley, CPCU, ARM, AIC, writes:
Consultants and expert witnesses are more used to answering questions than asking them. When the phone rings, there may be an attorney or prospective client on the other end of the line. He or she poses questions to the consultant or expert, trying to gauge whether there is a good “fit” between the client’s needs and what the practitioner can offer in the way of experience and expertise.
After answering prospective clients’ questions, effective consultants and expert witnesses may have some queries of their own. In fact, they should. Here are 12 questions that can form the basis of an effective fact-gathering process which unearths aspects of a case to help the consultant and expert witness gauge the degree of fit.
(5) What is the due date for the expert report? Before saying “yes” to any assignment, it’s best to find out. It takes only one case coming in on Dec. 23 with an expert report deadline of Jan. 3 to teach you this lesson. This scenario befell me, and I still have memories of spending my Christmas “vacation” with multiple bankers’ boxes on an insurance excess coverage dispute. “Deck the halls with boughs of declaratory judgment actions, tra-la-la-la … .” No whining here – I willingly agreed to take the assignment.
In hindsight, though, my rate structure may have been different on the rationale that “rush jobs cost more” in any line of endeavor. Before agreeing to an engagement or quoting your hourly rate, find out how close you are to the due date and adjust your fee structure, and even your willingness to take the case, accordingly. As an aside, it is amazing to see the procrastination bent of many legal counsel. Scheduling orders typically set forth months in advance the dates for designating expert witness, the dates expert reports are due and so forth. Yet procrastination often rears its ugly head (or its ugly rear) among attorneys who scramble for an expert two weeks before they must designate names.
Kevin M. Quinley is a leading authority on insurance issues, including risk management, claims, bad faith, coverages and litigation management. He is the author of more than 600 articles and 10 books. You can reach him through http://www.insuranceexpertnetwork.com/.