4 Tips for Hiring an Expert Witness

If your case is going to trial, expert witnesses can really shore up your defense or add authority to your prosecution. But what if you don’t know the first thing about bringing in an outsider to help your claim? Here are just a few tips for hiring an expert witness.

1. Find A Specialist

It goes without saying that you shouldn’t bring a tax advisor to a personal injury case, but even when you’re searching for expert witnesses in the right industry, make sure you’re finding one with relevant experience to both your case and your side of courtroom proceedings. For example, don’t hire a defense witness if you’re looking for a litigation support specialist.

2. Talk About Pricing

Will they charge by the hour or by the day? What about dispositions, appeals and pre-trial interviews as well as their work on the stand? Will they expect a bonus if you receive a settlement, or do they want to be paid within a specific time frame? Make sure you’re completely clear on their pricing before signing on the dotted line.

3. Check Their Credentials

In addition to double-checking that they really attended Harvard or really obtained that specialized certification, you should also look into their background to make sure there isn’t anything opposing counsel can use to undermine their reputation. Debts, felonies and police charges can all hurt their authority on the stand.

4. Run Through Mock Testimony

This is the most important part of hiring an expert witness, yet many people do it while skipping this step entirely. Even if your witness looks good on paper, there’s no guarantee that they’ll rise to the occasion in front of a jury. Put them under a florescent light and make sure they can answer questions calmly and without confusing industry jargon. It’s the 12 people in the jury box you need to think about here.

These are just a few things to keep in mind as you search for expert witnesses. Whatever you do, don’t rush your decision. Expert witnesses can make or break your case, so they should only be chosen with time and care.

Breaking Down Contractor Pricing

Breaking Down Contractor PricingWhen you receive several estimates from various contractors regarding a home improvement project, the prices can be extremely different. Contractors aren’t making the estimate process difficult, but must make a certain amount of money to remain in business with each completed project. As a consumer, it’s important to understand contractor pricing and the strategies behind the numbers.

Parts Cost Versus Retail

Most contractors, including HVAC and electrical types, charge parts as they’re necessary on a particular project. Certain projects, such as standard maintenance visits, usually have a flat parts cost for the customer unless issues arise. Each contractor receives their parts for a certain cost from the supplier, for example. They must add a percentage to this cost to cover overhead, payroll and increase profits slightly. Reputable contractors won’t gouge customers on their retail pricing.

The Labor Factor

Labor costs are normally a regional distinction, based on local regulations and cost of living. If you have a specialty project requiring particular contractor talents, labor is usually higher to compensate for the customized work. These overall labor rates, however, can be negotiable in many cases. Some contractors offer flat rate labor on certain services, such as an HVAC recharging process. Other work must be confined to an hourly rate to make the services fair to both contractor and customer.

Simplifying the Situation

Contractor estimates can be confusing, listing line items as varied as disposal fees or cleaning charges. Many professionals are seeking to streamline this estimation process for easier accounting and customer understanding. Flat rate services and labor rates are being introduced into many trade industries. It may take awhile for this estimation strategy to spread across the nation, however. Project costs must still be covered to encourage talented contractors to remain in business while pleasing customers in the meantime.

More contractors than ever are looking for a better estimation process, including flat rate electrical costs. Consumers can always discuss flat rate options with experts even if contractors haven’t set any in place yet at the corporate level. You could be the first customer to benefit and encourage a contractor to work toward flat rate pricing for easier estimation in the future.

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