Why is it that some expert witnesses do more than seek truth and go beyond merely assisting the trier of the fact, which is the legal foundation for their role as an expert witness, and cross the line, becoming a true hired gun or advocate? An expert should not care which side hires them, because the truth is still the truth. First off, it’s important to know when the case is bad. A truth seeker is not always able to help their client in the manner a hired gun can. A truth seeker does, however, help a client that has a bad case by making that client fully aware that they have a bad case. This can avoid hundreds of thousands of dollars of legal expense for the client in a losing case. Testimony from an expert witness must always be based on accepted science. Fortunately, the current climate in the court system is leaning away from simply accepting expert witness testimony at face value. The expert must now be both articulate and technically correct.
So, what can the insurance industry do to protect itself? Obviously, make sure that the expert is technically qualified. Can the expert communicate effectively? How is the expert’s company structured? Is it a sole proprietorship or one that embraces the opinions of all its employees and supports internal peer review of its findings? Finally, be wary of the expert that is unwilling to admit a mistake – we all make them.