It takes little time reviewing reports of high profile trials to question just how “expert” expert witness testimony is. Almost any trial hinging on highly complex issues, such as health care, requires an expert witness on each side. And where the stakes are high, attorneys may hire multiple experts.
Part of an attorney’s job is to persuade the jury that his expert witnesses are more credible than the other side’s. Almost always, the attorney will cross-examine the opposite side’s expert asking just how much he is being paid. It is perfectly understandable that professionals asked to provide a professional service should be paid for those services. Generally this line of questioning is posed to each side. Expert advice is rarely free, and some professionals make a significant part of their income acting as expert witnesses in the legal world. Expert witness testimony is important to each side because a credible or a discredited expert witness can and often does determine the judicial outcome.
However, imagine how the chessboard changes if an expert witness does not charge for his time, but instead volunteers to testify precisely because he is convinced of the rightness of the argument. Such an action can have a powerful effect on a jury accustomed to expert witnesses who otherwise command five figure sums for their testimony.
Here at Medical Justice we have a program called The PEER Program (Physicians Enlisted Expert Rebuttal). This is a no-cost value-added program we offer to our members. The idea behind the program is simple: Medical Justice members can receive the benefit of a pool of volunteer defense experts. The only requirement: to receive the benefit, you have to agree to be a volunteer defense expert. And, of course the expert needs to call it the way he sees it; ethically and responsibly.
The PEER program is just one in the collection of services designed to protect and preserve the reputation of our physician members.