Do Expert Witnesses Need Malpractice Insurance?

Professionals such as doctors, lawyers, accountants, and yes, expert witnesses, incur unique risks as a result of providing “professional services” to third parties, necessitating the purchase of professional liability insurance, sometimes known as errors and omissions insurance.

Can I be sued as an expert witness?

Any case involving technical, scientific, or other specialized knowledge necessitates the presence of witnesses. Courts will place a higher importance on an expert’s testimony because of their understanding of the relevant subject matter. When an expert offers incorrect, misleading, or otherwise fraudulent testimony, this reliance on expert testimony can be disastrous for an attorney’s case.

Witness Immunity

In the past, all witnesses in the United States were deemed entirely free from suit for the testimony they gave in court, even if the witness committed a mistake. In fact, early court opinions suggested that an attorney could not recover damages even if a witness’ testimony was given intentionally with the knowledge that it was false.

Witness immunity was once thought to be a common-law doctrine. The Supreme Court later reaffirmed this notion in Briscoe v. LaHue, 460 U.S. (1983), in which the Court decided that fact witnesses in criminal cases were immune from litigation for statements made in court. This concept was expanded over time as a result of earlier court rulings to include expert witness testimony.

There were two reasons for witness immunity. For starters, it was reasoned that witnesses might be hesitant to testify at all if they could be sued as a result of their testimony. Second, even if a witness chooses to testify, they have the right to suppress, modify, or otherwise alter their testimony if they believe their words may expose them to liability.

A Change in the Tide

However, many countries have been gradually eroding this theory in recent years. Attorneys in California, Connecticut, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Missouri, and Pennsylvania can now sue their “friendly” expert witnesses for breach of contract or professional malpractice in states like California, Connecticut, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Missouri, and Pennsylvania. In addition, the states of Vermont and New Jersey have determined that court-appointed experts can be held liable if they conduct their professional obligations negligently. The justification for these revisions stems from the belief that rendering experts harmless when they deliver negligent or intentionally fraudulent testimony hinders the search for truth.

Further complicating matters, expert witnesses in Tennessee and Michigan have lately been granted immunity, albeit Michigan permits the attorney to sue their expert for any losses incurred as a result of their reliance on the expert’s incorrect conclusion. This trend has even reached the United Kingdom, which abolished its 400-year-old witness immunity provision in 2011.

While states may disagree on the issue, one thing is clear: even when common-law witness immunity is upheld, witnesses must nevertheless exercise reasonable caution in formulating their opinions and testifying.

What is expert witness insurance?

The professional indemnity insurance coverage for expert witnesses protects the insured against claims filed against them for losses resulting from a violation of professional obligation.

What requirements must be met by an expert witness?

As an expert witness, you only need to meet a few legal standards. Expert witnesses must have “knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education” that will “assist the trier of fact in understanding the evidence or determining a fact in dispute,” according to Federal Rule of Evidence 702. This is a rather broad standard to begin with. Most adults might certainly qualify as an expert witness on something if they satisfied this threshold. Two other legal criteria are quite common, but they will vary by jurisdiction. To begin with, some states require expert witnesses in medical malpractice cases to be of the same field as the defendant. Some states may also require an expert witness testifying in their state to have a license or risk being charged with practicing without one.

What are the risks of being an expert witness?

Depending on the situation, expert witnesses may face the same legal issues as other experts, including professional or sexual misconduct, interference with an inquiry, violation of contract, and deceiving or misrepresenting the facts.

Can an expert be liable for his/her negligence?

The Supreme Court has overturned a 400-year-old immunity that shielded expert witnesses from legal action based on the evidence they provide to courts. Expert witnesses will be liable for carelessness as a result of the ruling.

What are the 4 pillars of an expert witness?

Expert witnesses are crucial in the trial, as more sophisticated issues necessitate a jury’s understanding. However, there is little consensus on what constitutes a great witness. Clear communication, coachability, confidence, and candor are four attributes to look for, according to David Solomon of GLG Law.

How do you disqualify an expert witness?

Why limit yourself to excluding expert testimony when you have the option of excluding the expert as well? The federal common law has been developing expert witness conflicts theory for years. Although the matter has gotten little attention from the appeal courts, trial courts often dismiss experts who have obtained confidential material from the opposing party. Expert witnesses are normally disqualified by the courts when a prior association resulted in access to sensitive information belonging to an opposing party, and that information could prejudice that party’s interests in the current case. A two-part test is used to assess if an expert has an impermissible conflict: (1) did the party claiming the conflict believe they had a confidential relationship with the expert, and (2) did that party disclose the expert pertinent confidential information. Toshiba Corp. v. Wang Labs., Inc. Some courts will consider fundamental fairness and prejudice as a result of disqualification or rejection of disqualification in addition to these two grounds. See, for example, Veazey v. Hubbard.

What is an expert witness in accordance to the rules on evidence?

If a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education will assist the trier of fact in understanding the evidence or determining a fact in issue, the witness may testify in the form of an opinion or otherwise, if (1) the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data, (2) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods, and (3) the witness has applied the principles ad hoc.

This admissibility criterion is intended to allow for new techniques to addressing challenges in litigation while also excluding testimony based on “junk science.”

Do you have to subpoena an expert witness?

Expert witnesses, on the other hand, require significantly greater information than non-retained witnesses. It may be difficult to compel an expert witness to testify, in part because federal standards demand the production of a report before an expert witness is deposed or testifies. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26 (a) (2) (B) requires the disclosure of a report that includes the following information:

  • A detailed list of all the viewpoints a witness intends to present, as well as the grounds for those ideas and the reasoning for those opinions.
  • In all other circumstances Whether in court or in deposition, the witness testified as an expert.
  • A statement of the amount of money given to the expert for his or her research and testimony in the matter at hand.

Obtaining this information in a report from a non-compensated, unretained expert will obviously be difficult, if not impossible.