Many serious personal injury cases, and pretty much all products liability and medical malpractice actions, require expert witnesses. The experts testify on topics including the mechanism of injury, industry standards or medical standard of care, the plaintiff’s medical condition, economic loss, and others. Local experts may not want to testify against a professional or company in their own state, for fear of being ostracized.
The problem of the reluctant expert is particularly acute in the medical malpractice arena. In response to this problem, a sizeable industry has grown, providing expert witnesses for attorneys on every conceivable topic. The pages of lawyer professional publications are filled with ads for companies promising to procure top flight experts; the internet is all the more overflowing with these companies. While expert search and procurement companies are invaluable resources for plaintiff’s lawyers, they do not replace the attorneys need to be very careful when selecting an expert.
The experts who list with the placement companies range from superbly qualified and good testifiers, to hacks, long-retired experts out of date on their subject matter, and experts well-qualified on paper who could not speak plainly and simply to a jury if their life depended on it. It’s always best for the plaintiff’s lawyer if he can find the right expert through personal knowledge or recommendation. If he has to go to an expert placement company, he needs to be dogged in finding an expert who knows his stuff and who will perform well at trial.