How to Source High Calibre Expert Witnesses (from the experts at sourcing experts)
By Laura Day, Medico-Legal Analyst
We all know that a claim can thrive or die on the back of an experts medical evidence, and that the evidence provided can have a huge impact on the value of a claim. We also know that having a balanced and reasoned expert can also be the key to ensure that their evidence will stand the test of scrutiny and allow a solicitor to either litigate or defend their client’s position.
Which is why rule No.1 for any solicitor within the Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence arena is to ensure the expert instructed has the necessary qualifications and the experience that is needed to provide a well-balanced, accurate and detailed report.
Now sourcing Experts is a tricky task which does start with the quality of your expert panel. At Inneg our internal expert panel computes to over 9,700 experts across over 130 disciplines. For each expert we hold detailed information including their sub-disciplines, specialist areas and venue locations. This allows our team of Analysts to quickly and efficiently narrow down experts that might be suitable for your claim.
However, if you are searching yourself here are a few tips that I personally can offer as a Medico-Legal Analyst at Inneg.
Step 1 – Sourcing New Experts
If your own expert panel does not have any suitable options, the stage you need to undertake is to roll up your sleeves and scour the internet looking for potential medical professionals within the field you require. “I always recommend noting down more options than you require as it is likely a number won’t be able to assist”.
Step 2 – Finding the right Contact Details.
Once you have located several experts that are of interest the next step is to ensure you have their correct medico-legal phone number and email addresses, which can be a task all in itself. If it is not obvious, I recommend picking up the telephone to see if you can get through to a secretary within either their NHS or Private practice who can advise you what the expert’s correct contact details are.
I can tell you from experience that this can be very time-consuming task! But what we need to remember is that doctors, surgeons, and medical secretaries often have busy medical practices to manage and for many of them, treating patients is their number one priority and comes before their medico-legal work. So my tip is to be patient and don’t get put off if you don’t get a reply on the first (or second) occasion and to keep trying three, four or five times until you get through.
Step 3 – Obtaining Expert Details
Once you have narrowed down your list of experts the next step is to email them your letter of approach, detailing the claim and all of your requirements of the expert.
Remember to provide enough detail so the expert understands what you require of them and can confirm that the report falls within their remit and of course don’t forget to check that the expert has no conflicts of interest. Along with confirmation that the expert can assist you should also ask for turnaround times, payment terms, medico-legal experience, expert’s CV and depending on the report you require you may also need to know examination venues and next available appointment times.
One top tip I have noticed is that solicitors don’t always ask for the experts estimated total report fee, so I recommend that you do ask for this, so you don’t get any nasty surprises on receipt of the invoice.
Step 4 – Be Prepared for a Long Slog
This can actually be a long-drawn-out process, as not every expert will respond to you in a timely manner. Be prepared that you will often need to call and email multiple times over a period of several weeks in order to get through to the expert or their secretary.
The issues why an expert hasn’t replied vary but could be as simple as your email hitting their junk folder or that the expert has a busy clinical practice and has not had time to consider your request fully, which in my experience 9 times out of 10 times can be rectified with a quick call.
Step 5 – Be Aware of the Heartache
You must also be prepared for some heartache along the way. You may spend hours of time tracking down an expert’s you think will be perfect only to get the reply that they do not undertake medico-legal work. Alternatively, after considering their CV’s you may find that they are not quite suitable for the report and therefore you are back too square one.
All in all, there are no shortcuts to finding high calibre expert witnesses and the more complex your claim the harder it can be to find the correct expert. Plus once you have found potential experts you need to make sure you can get through to them and obtain a response. Thus meaning, that unfortunately this process can often have to repeat a number of times.
That’s Why Working with Inneg can be so Valuable!
Part of my job here at Inneg is to help reduce solicitor’s admin burden (and all the heartache). As a Medico-Legal Analyst, I undertake the whole process above and much more, freeing up your time, and that of your admin team, allowing you to focus on other key tasks [or looking after the kids if you are stuck at home!].
My role is to act as an extension of your team and bridge the gap between the medical and legal world. And in my experience, I can clearly see that our team is able to act far more efficiently and speedily then almost all solicitor’s internal teams.
My fellow Analysts and I, currently provide nominations within 2 weeks for over 90% of cases and we always look to offer a gold standard in all-round service.
About the Author:
Laura Day is Medico-Legal Analyst and is part of our Inneg Client Support Team. Laura’s deals with a variety of their claims predominantly focusing on Clinical Negligence.
Laura is an avid reader, who also enjoys crocheting and traveling, which she is hoping to restart once restrictions have eased. She is also a top home chef whose signature dish is Mongolian beef with chili/coriander rice.