“Expert witnesses, like attorneys are not all the same. Sure, they all have impressive educational backgrounds and are skilled professionals, but they have different philosophies and strategies as they approach their work.”
Over the past year, I have authored a wide range of articles all focused on helping you, the legal professional, in understanding a bit more about the process of selecting an expert witness.
My story on “Why Hire an Expert,” explored the process which you as an attorney, should consider when selecting the right expert for your case. My story entitled, “Dog in the Fight” further elaborated on this point, and highlighted the purpose of an expert witness. “Why National Standards Are Certain to be a Game Changer” was my first story and laid the groundwork for a later story entitled, “What is the Standard of Care.” Both stories were written to help you understand the road map as it relates to slip, trip and fall cases, and when to take and not to take a slip and fall case.
“What to do When Your Case Turns into a Lemon” addressed the realities many attorneys often find themselves in, usually midway into their case, involving an unexpected problem and how to resolve it. “What to do When Your Expert Gets It Wrong” and “What to do When Your Experts Disagree,” were written from the perspective of an expert witness who often finds themselves in disagreement with another expert, and how such disagreements can be resolved. My last story dealt with an “Expert Witness’s Conflicts of Interest,” which in my experience poses more of a problem for experts than attorneys but can impact your case in the event that your expert is challenged.
So, let’s bring it all together! How to hire an expert is not hard, but hiring the right expert for your particular case is. Expert witnesses, like attorneys are not all the same. Sure, they all have impressive educational backgrounds and are skilled professionals, but they have different philosophies and strategies as they approach their work. If I was to condense all my articles down to single message, it would emphasize the importance of selecting the right expert witness for you and your client.
I, like you, have had incredibly good and bad cases; some I wish I never had gotten involved in. What made the bad cases challenging, usually was the relationship between me and the retaining counsel. Their expectations of me, and mine of them, were in conflict. I have had attorneys retain me and ask for an expert report, with nothing more than their clients’ written statement. Needless to say, I did not author a report which was the trigger for a soon to be stressful professional relationship. Most of these cases, I chalk up to an inexperienced attorney or one that has poorly prepared his or her case.
Since 1997, when I was retained in my first case, I have worked with many highly skilled professionals, and those which, when I look back, I question if they actually had a law degree. I assume you, as attorneys, have had a similar experience. I, like you, have had a lot of the run-of-the-mill cases, and a few that dramatically changed my life. Having been retained in more than 700 cases, representing both plaintiffs and defendants, I have been floored by much of my casework. Which will be the title of my third upcoming book.
“Floored!” is a compilation of my most memorable 50 cases, written in story form. Cases like, the elderly woman who slipped on a grave marker and broke her hip at her husband’s funeral, or the case where a young boy tripped and fell, skinning his knee at a small-town laser tag arcade, only to contract a flesh-eating bacteria, which destroyed part of his brain. These cases, like many others, changed my life forever and were far from the run-of-the-mill.
The reason for writing the book, is the never-ending questions I get from people who, after telling them that I am an expert witness who specializes in slips, trips and falls, reply “Really? There really are such people?” Yes, there really are. Which they then reply, “Wow, I thought that people who sue for a slip and fall are just fraudsters, looking for a quick buck.” To which I answer, that in the past 20 years, I have never actually been involved in a matter which I thought was clearly fraudulent, but rather, how there are so many real people getting hurt as a result of a fall. This answer then leads to them asking me for stories as a slip and fall expert.
Everyone likes to hear stories about unusual or unexpected events, which I have many! My work has taken me across the country and to almost every state. I even had a case representing a plaintiff who slipped and fell on an icy parking lot in Alaska, which most people would think was an everyday occurrence during the winter season in Alaska. The conclusion may surprise you! Russell J. Kendzior