Tackling expert witness work is a bold move, and it is not for everyone. Most of my colleagues, when the find out I do it, say “how can you do that?” I think they are afraid of having to say that another doctor made a mistake and needs to pay a penalty.
Patient’s who have been wronged deserve compensation.
Doctors who have done their best deserve to be defended.
Deciding between the two can be difficult in some cases, but rewarding when I have done my best.
Why do I like it?
It is hard.
It is intellectually demanding.
I learn something from every case I do.
Most attorneys are very smart and very dedicated and I learn a lot from them.
I work whenever I want from wherever in the world I want.
It pays well, (better than any other activity in medicine).
How to get started:
Don’t quit your full time job! You need to work at least part time in order to be accepted as an expert.
You don’t have to be in academics, but it helps if you were at some point.
You don’t have to start your own company, but you can if you want. You can do it as a sole proprietor, using your name and home or business address.
I would recommend, however, a separate business checking account and credit card and business software like Wave (free), but you can do it with a spread sheet. You will be paid as a 1099 consultant, so you will need to learn how to pay estimated state and federal and self-employment tax. (You might need an accountant).
You can create your own web page if you want, but it is not required.
Most expert witnesses, I am told, do not buy business insurance.
Take a course from SEAK on how to be an expert witness ($1350.00 + hotel, travel, food for 3 days)
Sign up for a service to get your name in front of attorneys. I used the SEAK site and now have all the business I can handle. There are multiple other sites out there that would like your business.
Decide what your niche is. I you are a board-certified specialist, that should be easy. You might have to do some thinking about what you are most knowledgeable about.
Decide on your rates for 1) case review, 2) deposition, 3) trials, 4) travel, and whether and how to charge a retainer fee (the SEAK course will help with this).
Maintain you intellectual integrity. Decide for yourself after an initial review of a case whether you can support it. Don’t become known as a hired gun who always testifies for the same side.
Decide what software to use. I use:
Fastmail for email, calendar to keep track of my appointments and phone calls
Google spread sheets
WAVE: business accounting software to track income, deductible business expenses, create invoices, link to bank account and credit card - like Quickbooks, but easier and free, unless you have employees
Fox It PDF editor to read digital medical records
Here are some tools that I use
P- are cases presented to me by a plaintiff’s attorney but where I said there is no case here for me to support.