Physicians often cringe when I mention that I routinely participate in Medical Expert Witness work. They imagine sitting on a stand while a grumpy trial attorney attempts to discredit their knowledge and credentials. Understandably, we Physicians are instilled with some inherent fear and avoidance of the entire legal profession, but we are missing out on very exciting and lucrative work by shying away from it.
…..There are levels to medical expert witness work—it is not all juries, judges, and trials. A defense or prosecution team may simply need a physician expert to effectively translate medical records as it involves a specific case.
…..For example: Why was this child’s lead level tested? Is that standard for all children? Can high lead levels harm children? What is the treatment for high lead levels?
…..Physicians also imagine they will automatically be asked to testify in a case of medical malpractice. That is rarely the purpose of a medical expert witness.
…..This work can be fully remote. You may never even see a lawyer or any other involved party in person. You may be asked to compose an Expert Report of your findings in support of the facts, the science, and your conclusion expert opinion. Notice that I didn’t say “in support of the defense or prosecution.” Integrity matters always and in all ways.
Salary: You will be asked for a “rate sheet” where you are free to set your own hourly rates and fees. Depending on the region of the country and whether you are contracted in a federal case or by a private firm, the range is generally $300-$700 per hour for Medical Expert Witnesses. Retainer fees may be negotiated upfront. Every email response, every phone call, and every minute of your time spent researching the subject matter, taking notes, or drafting a report is compensated at the rate you determined. How refreshing!
Flexibility meter: 9/10. Very flexible in the expert report writing phase. Deadlines are usually weeks apart and, in my experience, attorneys are very accommodating of their expert witness’ time. Depositions and court dates may be scheduled according to your availability if your attendance is required.