Need an Expert Witness? Be Prepared for a Fight
Business trials use experts on a regular basis. But just because you call someone an expert – or they call themselves an expert – doesn’t mean that they necessarily are. Ultimately, that’s for a court to decide, and that’s a decision that the other side may have room to argue about.
Who is an Expert?
Sometimes, it is easy for a court to determine that your expert is actually an expert, and there is little or no debate about it. Certainly, those with science or technical degrees are often qualified. But sometimes, there can be doubt about who an expert is or isn’t.
This is because to be an expert in court, the expert doesn’t always have to have degrees or papers written or other accolades on a resume. For example, someone who will testify as to the value of a home in court, may be a realtor for 20 years. Does that make him or her an expert on the prices of homes? It can be argued either way.
Many experts in blue collar jobs, or jobs that involve technical construction skills, may be argued about in court.
So, for example, there may be an electrician with nothing more than a trade school degree—but that electrician may also have 20 years of experience doing electrical work. Resume-wise, he or she is not qualified as an expert, but experience-wise, he may well be.
Not all experts may even have a background in what you need in court. If you need an expert on business sales, there are few professional expert witnesses with extensive experience in business sales—you may be left just to find someone who has worked in that industry for many years, and who can testify based on his or her experience.
Specialties and Subspecialities
There are also questions about specialties; the other side will require that your expert not just be an expert in his field, but that the expert knows about any subspecialities that he or she is testifying about.
So, a general contractor with 20 years experience may seem to be well qualified to be an expert in your construction case involving faulty installation of plumbing. But is that general contractor really qualified to testify, specifically and expertly, about plumbing specifically, the way an actual plumber could? Maybe, or maybe not.
Good Resume, Limited Experience
You can have the opposite problem as well: your expert can be absolutely qualified on a resume, but have little or no practical real world experience in what he or she is going to testify to in court.
Part of getting the expert that you need into court to testify, is bolstering the witness’ background up, especially if the expert doesn’t have the traditional indicators on a resume that we may otherwise look at.
We can help you with your business law trial if it does ever need to go to court. Call our West Palm Beach business litigation attorneys at Pike & Lustig today for help and advice.