How Can You Qualify an Expert in Court?

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expert in court

If you are trying a case that has any complicated factors, such as medical malpractice, forensic accounting, or information technology, it will likely be beneficial to have an expert in the field testify on the facts of the case.

This doesn’t mean you can just ask your Aunt Martha who is a system administrator at her company to talk about firewall security. When you have an expert witness testifying in your case, it means that the issues are complex enough that an ordinary person would have a hard time making sense of the facts. The report prepared by an expert witness takes these complicated facts and draws a conclusion that a layperson (what the jury is likely made of) can understand.

There is a process to verifying or “qualifying” an expert witness for testimony, and it is important to know what that process is, and what is expected of your expert.

What is an Expert Witness?

An expert witness is a professional in their field, usually related to medicine, finance, technology, security, or other fields where an individual would have specialized knowledge that would help them weigh in on a case. An important distinction of expert witnesses is the fact that they have expert knowledge of a particular type, and it is not something that a layperson would be able to establish. Furthermore, an expert witness must testify on something very narrow in scope, and cannot simply be a generalized expert in their field. A medical billing expert called in on your case would have to testify on the accuracy and reasonableness of charges for your medical bills, or, the various codes used to report your care to insurance. They could not testify broadly on medical billing in general.

What is Voir Dire?

Literally translated “voir dire” means is to “speak the truth,” but it generally is used to the process at trial when either the judge or the attorneys ask questions of potential jurors so the attorneys can determine who they wish to keep on the jury panel at trial.  It is also the process used to qualify an expert witness as an expert in his or her field for purposes of a trial.  

For example, if you need a medical billing expert to testify in your injury case that the treatment you received after an accident was medically necessary, then they will be asked a series of questions by both the party offering the witness (you or your lawyer) and a cross-examination by the opposing party to establish them as someone with the background and expertise necessary to “qualify” them as an expert.

Often the requirements for being considered an expert are a combination of educational, practical and experiential factors. When presenting an expert witness it is important that they have been well-schooled in the area that they are testifying about, that they have continued learning about the subject in the years since formal education, and that they have work experience in the field.

Rules of Evidence

The rules of evidence specifically related to expert testimony provide for what an expert witness is allowed to do in court. Because they are preparing a report for the case that is based on the evidence given to them by their side in the litigation, their testimony can make the difference in convincing a jury one way or another because they are offering a conclusion on how the trial should be adjudicated. There multiple ways an expert can offer a testimony:

1. The specific knowledge of the expert will help elucidate evidence in the trial or determine a fact.
2. Their testimony is formed upon “sufficient” facts.
3. The testimony is produced from methods and principals, or
4. The Expert used methods and principals and applied them to the case at hand.

Because of these rules, it is always important to ask your expert witness to prepare a report before the trial and admit it into evidence. It is also necessary for the expert to re-familiarize themselves with the contents of the report shortly before the trial so they are aware of its contents and their references during the cross-examination. Some expert witnesses will require coaching on how to handle themselves in the courtroom to avoid conflict and stick to the facts.

What an Expert Witness may be asked during voir dire:

1. Their name
2. Their occupation/place of work
3. How long they have worked there
4. What degrees they have earned and from which institutions
5. Any professional societies of which they are members
6. Any awards they have received related to the area in which they are experts
7. Any licenses/board certifications they possess
8. Do they perform scientific studies/publish peer-reviewed works
9. If they prepared a report
10. What materials they used to prepare their report
11. The conclusion they reached in their report

There are more relevant questions an expert witness may be asked, including if they continue to do research, or if they have a resume (if they do have a resume, it should be admitted into evidence with their report). The most important thing when qualifying a witness is to present them as an expert in a narrow field on which they are testifying and that they answer each question directly and honestly.

Why You Need Medical Billing Analysts

It is highly recommended to hire a medical billing expert to determine and testify to the reasonable value of medical service. The provider’s location can affect these costs and reimbursements.

Whether you are a plaintiff or a defendant in a case, one of the most important items in Automobile, Personal Injury, and Medical Malpractice cases is the cost of medical bills. Figuring out medical costs can be complicated, and expert guidance is critical to ensuring you have a clear understanding of what is “fair and reasonable” with regard to the finances involved in your medical care.

Medical Billing Analysts offers litigation support services nationwide, with offices in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Nevada & California. Medical Billing Analysts represent both defendants and plaintiffs with regard to improper medical billing and coding.

The team of MBA professionals will review the hospital, medical and therapy bills to determine the value of past medical expenses, and based on local CPT codes they can also perform a Cost Projection Analysis of future costs.  Through meticulous analysis, we can justify the reasonable cost of services which assists in resolving the case.

Contact Medical Billing Analysts by phone or email at 800-292-1919 or intake@medicalbillinganalysts.com. We’re here for you, whether you need an evaluation of a single charge or a complex injury case.