How To Choose A Safety Expert Witness

Posted by
Lance Roux
on Oct 28, 2014

how to choose a safety expert witnessIf you have a case involving negligence, you may need a safety expert witness to evaluate the safety measures in place at the time of the accident against reasonable best practices. Expert testimony may help establish the negligence of the party, and can be essential in many cases.

For example, in a slip and fall case, the plaintiff may allege that a store owner failed to use ordinary care to to maintain, modify, repair, correct, inspect or warn the general public of dangerous condition and that such failure to exercise reasonable care was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury. A safety expert witness will measure and analyze floor plans, testifying on whether the safety policy and flooring in question met industry standards. The expert may also discuss whether certain factors, such as moisture from spilled drinks, affected the slip resistance of a particular flooring surface and led to the injury.

Here are 5 tips to ensure you choose an experienced and qualified safety expert witness:

  1. Check references:  You wouldn’t hire a new employees without checking references, and you should be no less scrupulous when it comes to choosing an expert witness.  Ask for and check out references, preferably no fewer than 3 to 5, before you hire.  Ideally, you will also do some sleuthing to find former clients not listed as references. 

  2. Check credentials:  You need to know where your expert was educated and trained.  Take the time to investigate whatever claims he or she makes, and ensure that his or her education and training are sufficient to stand up under a rigorous cross examination in court. Check for industry certifications, such as Certified Safety Professional.

  3. Make sure they have relevant experience:  Workplace accidents occur across a wide variety of industries and for many different reasons.  Choose an expert who has relevant experience in your industry, and in the type of accident which is the basis of the lawsuit. Before hiring an expert witness, attorneys must be sure that the safety expert witness who will be testifying is sufficiently qualified to withstand the challenges to an expert’s reliability brought during cross-examination.

  4. You don’t necessarily get what you pay for:  Don’t make the mistake of assuming that a pricey witness is the best.  Some of the least qualified expert witnesses charge the highest rates.

  5. Find out if the witness has ever sued, or been sued by former clients:  Just as there are cases in which defendants sue their own attorneys, there are instances in which the witness/client relationship ends in court.  While there can be legitimate reasons for these relationships to turn sour, a large number of such cases should throw up a red flag.

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Tags: Expert Witness

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