Withdrawal of an Expert Witness
In Part 1, I wrote about the expert witness’s surprise when finding out a case is not going to settle and the expert has to go to court to testify. This is additional expert witness advice: What factors allow an expert witness to withdraw from a case? There are a few.
- A life-threatening illness might be one.
- Another might be if you took a job at the defendant facility after you reviewed the case.
- The refusal of the attorney to pay the expert’s bills might be another, after all attempts are made to resolve the issue. (Few attorneys would risk losing an expert over a billing issue.)
However, without a legitimate reason, for example, a plaintiff expert witness who fails to appear in court may cause the judge to allow a defendant to be dropped out a suit.
Expert Witness Advice: Possible Repercussions for the Expert Witness
What are the repercussions for an expert if that happens? Legal remedies may vary from state to state and also based on the reactions of the attorney. You could face these consequences:
- Receive a subpoena to appear in court. If you live in the same state as the courthouse, the judge has the authority to demand that you appear in court. You cannot ignore a subpoena.
- The attorney could demand a refund of all of the money he paid you to serve as his expert. That would actually be a mild consequence compared to the next consequence:
- You could be sued by the attorney for breach of contract. You agreed to serve as an expert. You did not fulfill your obligation. The attorney could demand money from you personally or your insurance carrier to cover the attorney’s loses.
- You could lose your expert witness practice. Attorneys talk to each other. When they are angry with an expert, they spread the word within their active network.
Suits against experts are rare; you don’t want to see your name associated with a Complaint. Having a professional malpractice policy with an expert witness rider is a good investment for peace of mind. But the best safeguard is to be mindful of your obligations. Be professional, be prepared, arrange to get time off to go to court, and do the best possible job you can.
Remember that the lives of many people are affected by a suit: the facility’s staff, insurance carrier, defendants, their families, plaintiffs and their families, and attorneys and their staff. You don’t see all of those people when you enter the courtroom to testify, but all are affected by the outcome of a suit. Expert witnesses function in a serious important role within this complex and high stakes environment. Once you take on this role, be mindful of your responsibilities.
Pat Iyer MSN RN LNCC was an expert witness for 20 years. She has also heard the statement, “Don’t worry. You won’t have to go to court.” Get Pat’s book, “How to Be a Successful Expert Witness” at this link. Get expert witness advice to increase your success.