The Complete Guide to Hiring an Economics Expert Witness

Edward Maggio, J.D., M.S.

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— Updated on June 25, 2020

The Complete Guide to Hiring an Economics Expert Witness

At the heart of many lawsuits is often one key factor – money. From personal injury tort matters to business disputes, an economics expert can offer crucial support to an attorney’s position when dealing with financial cases. Economics experts can serve as key witnesses uniquely equipped to opine on damage calculations, wage disputes, business valuations, lost earnings, wage disputes, and other complex financial corporate issues, including securities and stock forecasting.

With economic damages at the heart of many legal disputes, it’s important to understand the facets of your case theory where an economic expert can lend critical professional guidance. From cases on identity theft and copyright infringement to employment discrimination and worker’s compensation, this guide will cover several cases in which retaining an economic expert could offer enormous value to litigators.

How an Economics Expert Witness can Help Your Case

The decision to hire an economics expert generally comes down to two case factors. Firstly, an economics expert can be instrumental in developing a case theory for matters involving monetary damages. For example, in a major personal involving a skilled violinist who can no longer use their hands, an economics expert can testify on lost lifetime earnings. Without provable damages, trying a personal injury lawsuit would be pointless.

Economic experts can also aid a jury’s understanding of how damages can fluctuate with productivity, inflation, taxes, expected duration of loss, life expectancy, and time value of money. In particular, for a plaintiff’s case, such issues can quadruple the proposed damage amounts. The economics expert witness can provide a long term picture of monetary damages and ensure a fair ruling  for an injured plaintiff.

Secondly, an economic witness can offer valuable testimony on complex financial disputes for corporations. In business disputes, an economic expert also can review and testify on a company’s internal data. This includes examining a company’s assets and liabilities in terms of industry, past and future outcomes, markets, and economic conditions. To effectively build a case around intricate corporate affairs, presenting an economic expert with strong business acumen and impressive academic credentials will lend authority and validity to your argument.

Selecting the Right Economics Expert

An economics expert is generally an academic economist, professional financial adviser, or a vocational expert. To be qualified to testify in court, the expert should possess unique knowledge and robust industry experience.

In addition to their professional experience, here are a few other factors to keep in mind when retaining a witness for consultation or testimony:

Cost

An expert witness’s fees should always be justifiable. If paying an expert upwards of $20,000 to testify could potentially earn the plaintiff an extra $500,000 come settlement, the expert’s testimony would, of course, be a worthy investment. On the flip side, it’s important to consider the limits of the dispute and fact pattern themselves when setting your budget for expert witness expenses.

Case Matter Experience

A Ph.D. in Economics is important. However, having an expert who is also familiar with the type of case at hand is ideal. Imagine a case handling a union worker’s compensation claim. An expert with knowledge of union wages and benefits will be able to accurately calculate appropriate damagesStrategy – Consider how an economic expert fits into your case. Is their testimony essential for a jury to understand the basis for damages or clarifying a unique wage issue? An expert must serve a key role when it comes presenting clear, digestible arguments before a jury.

Style

In addition to their specialized expertise, an economic expert brings the most value when they are able to testify in a cogent, engaging manner. Economic experts are often opining on advanced financial topics and their personal style on the stand is an important factor to consider.

A discussion of money involves an analysis of numbers. The better an economics expert is at testifying in a manner that a jury can understand, the more they bring value to a case. The ability to take complex monetary issues such as damages in a failed merger and acquisition and keep a jury’s attention during their testimony is invaluable.

Final Thoughts

Determining the truth behind  economic damages or profit loss is no easy task for a litigator. In these instances, bringing on an economics expert witness with the appropriate financial knowledge and experience is an invaluable resource. But with the right economic expert, vetted for the qualifications outlined above, litigators can be confident in their testimony as an aid towards case success.

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