You are either an expert witness or an independent legal nurse consultant. Do you run an expert witness referral business? These are critical performance elements that will endear you to an attorney.
1.Calls with attorney: be responsive
The expert calls the attorney’s office to acknowledge she got the materials that were sent either through email or the mail. This eases the mind of the support staff who assembled the materials. It also gives the expert an opportunity to speak with the attorney if she has not already done so.
The expert promptly returns the attorney’s or paralegal’s calls. Attorneys worry if they do not hear from an expert. They may be facing a deadline. Their delight when they first obtained an expert for the case begins to wane when they can’t reach the expert.
2. Expert Witness Billing: Be prompt and reasonable
The expert witness promptly submits invoices and does not allow a large number of hours to accumulate. Smaller invoices are easier to pay than large ones.
The expert’s billing is reasonable. Based on years of experience and understanding of medical records, the expert does not spend excessive time reviewing materials. The new expert should understand that a learning curve is part of becoming an expert witness, and cannot be billed for. As the expert gains more experience, she learns that she does not have to read every page of the medical record, and can scan other materials.
3. How to Shine as an Expert Witness – Expert Witness Report
Attorneys value reports that are thoughtful, thorough, hit the most important points, well written, and proofread. Plaintiff expert reports focus on the deviations that are significant, and the report includes the legally correct language. The expert explains the standard of care and how the nurses deviated from the standard.
Defense expert witnesses write reports that address the allegations of the plaintiff’s expert or the complaint filed in the suit. Their reports explain why the nurses met the standard of care.
The expert’s report states that he or she holds these opinions to a reasonable degree of nursing probability.
4. Expert witness deadlines: meet them
Take a lesson from Zappos Shoes. This shoe company tells their customers that their order will be shipped in a few days. The employees then routinely ship the shoes overnight. What does buying shoes have to do with supplying reports to attorneys? The best report in the world is of no value if it is turned in too late. The attentive expert submits a report before it is due. If the expert promises the report will be done by a certain date, and gets it done sooner, everyone is delighted. The attorney will have a chance to look at the report and give the expert feedback for changes. The attorney will feel less stress over the deadline. The expert witness referral service will be delighted because they can invoice faster and get the expert paid faster.
5. Be organized and prepared
The expert’s materials are well organized. (The expert witness referral service may provide this service to make it easier for the expert to locate the critical information.) The well- organized expert can find a document within seconds. This is an asset that helps the expert throughout the case, from record review, report preparation, deposition preparation and testimony, and trial preparation and testimony.
Attorneys rely on experts who are thoroughly familiar with their reports and the materials before their deposition begins. At the deposition, the expert sticks to her opinion, steps around traps, and does not allow herself to be bulldozed by the attorney.
At trial, the expert is thoroughly prepared, knows the facts, clearly articulates her opinions, look sat the jury when testifying, and keeps her composure when being cross examined.
LNCs and experts who master these points will shine, get more cases, and make more money.
Pat Iyer MSN RN LNCC ran an expert witness referral service for 25 years before selling her company in 2015. Pat shared models for running a profitable expert witness location service in a new free webinar. Use this link to see the program.
She coaches LNCs who want to make more money, get more cases and avoid expensive mistakes. See www.LNCAcademy.com. Pat Iyer is past president of the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants.