Expert witnesses cost a fortune. For some “experts”, personal injury litigation is their full-time occupation. Some expert witnesses spend 30-40 hours reviewing file materials at a rate of $500 per hour (or higher), and you get the shock of your life when you get their first invoice for $19k. This cannot happen.
When you first retain the expert witness, you have to put the expert on a written budget. Your budget must state that the expert cannot exceed a certain dollar amount without receiving your prior written approval and if they exceed the maximum budget, they will not get paid for their extra time.
Dear Dr. Jones:
Thank you for agreeing to conduct an objective, independent professional review of the medical records.
In order to establish a mutually acceptable understanding as to your time and billing, we ask that you review the proposed agreement.
Our Rules for Expert Witnesses
We have 2 simple rules for your invoices. Our Rules for Expert Witnesses are not suggestions, but rather, conditions that must be followed by all experts who work with our law firm. We appreciate your understanding and look forward to working with you.
Rule #1: Invoice within 60 Days
We expect that you will submit invoices within sixty (60) days of the date of the service. Please do wait more than sixty days to submit an invoice, as this leads to unexpectedly large invoices near the conclusion of the lawsuit.
Why We Do It This Way: By billing regularly, you will get paid close to the time that you provide the services and we can avoid unexpectedly large invoices that accumulate over a long period of time. If you occasionally forget to bill every 60 days, we will pay your invoice as long as it complies with Rule #2.
Rule #2: Prior Written Approval is Required for Invoices Exceeding $4k
If your work will result in an invoice above $4,000, please send an email to our paralegal, Corina Skidmore, at email@example.com or call 845-802-0047, and tell us how much more time you will need to complete your review of the records. For example, your email requesting approval for additional time might read:
“My current invoice is $4k, but I estimate that I will need 3-4 more hours to complete my review of the deposition transcripts. Please confirm that this is acceptable.”
We understand that it is difficult to estimate the additional time that you need and with rare exception, we will send you an email approving your request. Our email will read, “Your request to spend an additional 3-4 hours on this case is approved.”
You will not be paid for an invoice to the extent that it exceeds $4,000 unless we have given our prior written approval.
Why We Do It This Way: At the end of the case, we do not want to be surprised by a huge fee that reflects all of your time spent on the file since you were retained (i.e., 20-40 hours). Rules #1 and #2 are intended to avoid that surprise.
Sign to Confirm Our Agreement
Please let us know if this agreement is acceptable and if so, sign this agreement where indicated, keep one copy for yourself, and return an original to us. This agreement will remain in effect throughout the time that you provide professional services relating to this case.
If this is not acceptable, please inform us in writing to John H. Fisher, P.C., 278 Wall Street, Kingston, New York 12401 or by sending an email to our paralegal, Corina Skidmore, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
John H. Fisher