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  1. #1
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    Default Expert Witness Fees

    I was asked to testify as an expert in an upcoming trial. I was notified 3 days before the trial that they settled and I would not be needed. I'm told that it is common practice to charge a 4-hour minimum because I was not able to book other jobs during the time that I was expected to testify. Does that sound reasonable?

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  2. #2
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    Mar 2007
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    Default Re: Expert Witness Fees

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Frederickson View Post
    I was asked to testify as an expert in an upcoming trial. I was notified 3 days before the trial that they settled and I would not be needed. I'm told that it is common practice to charge a 4-hour minimum because I was not able to book other jobs during the time that I was expected to testify. Does that sound reasonable?
    Quick question, did you send a price or contract / terms of service to outline such fees (in advance)?


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Expert Witness Fees

    Quote Originally Posted by Dom D'Agostino View Post
    Quick question, did you send a price or contract / terms of service to outline such fees (in advance)?
    No. I've been working for this attorney for many years. I've always just billed him hourly for site inspections, report generation, etc. He's never questioned my invoices (probably because I tend to be cheap). This is the first time that he's asked me to reserve a week in case he needed me to testify. He emailed me on a Monday of that week to tell me that they settled and he wouldn't need me. I wasn't able to book anything else for that week. I'm thinking of billing him a minimum of 4 hr. If he questions it, I can send him a fee schedule.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Expert Witness Fees

    Blocking a week and billing out for 4 hours is a bit unbalanced, but I don't know what formal arrangements you have had previously with this client.

    Another inspector here (Jerry) has done EW work and he'll be along soon to offer his opinion too.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Default Re: Expert Witness Fees

    Lately, the last week or two, Inspectionnews has not been loading correctly for me. Brian tracked the issue down to Chrome forcing the address to go to https (secured) versus the http (unsecured) server ... and has been working on it.To date, for me, it still loads text based, so while I check it a few times a day, trying to find something is simply not worthwhile ... although I did see this earlier to day on my phone,(but could access the files I need at the time, which are on my computer).Hopefully this will work: http://www.constructionlitigationcon...e_schedule.pdf

    Jerry Peck
    Construction/Litigation/Code Consultant - Retired
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Expert Witness Fees

    Keep in mind that the $7,5000 amount didn't start until maybe 2012 or so. I had been using $3,500, which was for 'anticipated monthly billing amount'. Then I had a couple of cases where I would have to bill the attorneys another $3,500 mid-month so as to not get the retainer amount behind the billing amount. After all, the retainer amount is intended to always keep the client having paid more than is owed. At the end of the case, any retainer left, if any, was given back to the client. I think I gave back around 750 once (because I misjudged not including 3 hours that I could have. But, hey, that is business, and it looks good to the client to say "By the way, it didn't take quite as much time as I thought, so here is the extra money."

    Jerry Peck
    Construction/Litigation/Code Consultant - Retired
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Expert Witness Fees

    3 days notice is plenty of time for me to book other work.

    www.aic-chicago.com
    773/844-4AIC
    "The Code is not a ceiling to reach but a floor to work up from"

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Expert Witness Fees

    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Keller View Post
    3 days notice is plenty of time for me to book other work.
    Markus, the point isn't whether or not one can, or already has, back up work for when an expert witness case no longer requires your time and work.

    The point is that the expert witness, at the direction of the attorneys, has set aside a given amount of time, and that time puts the expert on standby, which is then billed out.

    When you call an attorney, they put down that you called and logged in down for (likely) minimum 15 minutes, or (possibly more likely) logged you down for a minimum of 30 minutes.

    At the end of the day, they may well have logged 16 hours billable time, yet may have actually spent only 4 hours on the phone or in office consultations with their clients.

    Will the attorneys refund that money ... (sorry, had to stop at that question before continuing) ... even though they have other clients they can immediately fill that time with?

    The most flagrant case I had heard of was from West Coast Jerry (RIP) when he called me about an incident that he had. He and I then came up with a revision to the contract to address it.

    There is no need to allow the attorneys to take advantage of you. The retainer is one way which helps when working with such attorneys.

    Jerry Peck
    Construction/Litigation/Code Consultant - Retired
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Knoxville, TN
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    2,560

    Default Re: Expert Witness Fees

    Jerry, Your comment about West Coast Jerry, brought back some memories. He helped me with my expert witness contract a very long time ago.
    Without a retainer, or contract it might be hard to collect. Sounds like a lack of communication on the attorneys part.
    Without a retainer, I would send a bill for the entire day, or at least they days they asked you to set aside that you couldn't book.


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