Why an Expert Witness Should Not Offer Opinions on Initial Call or Email With Retaining Counsel

[SEAK is the expert witness training company. The following clip has been excerpted from SEAK’s course, “How to Start, Build, and Run a Successful Expert Witness Practice.” Thank you for watching.]

Okay. Let’s take a look at another example here and then I want to make a final point. So expert witnesses, depending upon your specialty, you’re going to get most of your new case referrals either electronically, through an email or, you know, some type of a web portal if you’re in a directory like SEAK, or with a phone call. So a lot of the times, a lawyer is going to send you an email. So here’s an inquiry from the SEAK expert director that one of my client’s approached me with after she kind of screwed it up.

And the lawyer wrote, and we sanitized this, obviously, so you can’t see who it is and who it’s from. The lawyer wrote, say, “Hi. We are looking for a Pediatrician expert in med mal case with the following facts.” And why do I underline this, “Please advise with your CV and fee schedule if you’re interested”? And then they talk about this kid that is going to be born in a thousand years. That’s obviously a typo. And they think there’s a problem with the vaccinations and the person leaves their contact information here, just typically what you’re going to get. A lot of other times, you’re going to get the name of the defendants and the plaintiffs that the lawyers can let you know if there’s a conflict right away if you’re screening these things. And my client brought me her response and she said, “Do you think I did the right thing here?” And when I saw it, you know, I almost had a stroke. And here’s her response. “I would need to know more about the specific vaccine-preventable illness that the child actually had and what other underlying medical problems the child had.” “I would need to know.” Remember Mick Jagger? “Also, per the CDC guidelines,” blah blah blah, blah blah blah, all this other stuff.

What did this expert do? She just created a potentially discoverable document that could totally screw up this guy’s case. “I would need to know which specific vaccine-preventable illness the child actually had.” Well, maybe the lawyers don’t know that. Maybe they can’t get that. They now can’t… So she never heard from this lawyer again because she put thoughts, “The only thing that I might not agree with is the number of vaccines needed,” etc. etc. She’s just completely shooting from the hip. The lawyer asked for your CV and fee schedule and she starts spewing the stream of consciousness thoughts about the case. This is a great way to keep yourself in a lower tax bracket because a good lawyer is not going to hire you. So you shouldn’t be forced to be pressed to give opinions on that opening inquiry, be it a phone call or an email. But also, you shouldn’t volunteer them either. “Yes, I have experience with… Here’s my CV. Here’s my fee schedule. Please call if you’d like to discuss. Basically, my qualifications or how I were to go about an analysis.” So don’t jump the gun.

SEAK is the expert witness training company. What you have just seen has been excerpted from SEAK’s course, “How to Start, Build, and Run a Successful Expert Witness Practice.” Thank you for watching.