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Expert witness fees

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Good question!

For requested court appearances, whether or not testimony is given or is 
completed in part of a day, I charge on a per diem basis, plus direct 
non-salary expenses.  The per diem charge is a 25 percent premium over what I 
would regularly charge for an 8-hour day.  The reason for a per diem charge 
is because the full day has to be set aside, no appointments made, no other 
work done.  If additional preparation has to be made outside of court 
appearances, that is charged on an hourly basis.

For appearances at depositions, if the state's rules of civil procedures does 
not have a time limitation on the deposition, I would charge the same as for 
court appearances.  Several years ago, Arizona's Rules of Civil Procedures 
placed a 4-hour limit on an expert's deposition and an expert could be 
deposed only once unless the court gives approval for additional 
depositions.  As it now stands, my charge is based on a half-day at a 25 
percent premium over my regular charge for 4-hours, plus direct non-salary 
expenses.  I also require payment in advance or at the beginning of the 
deposition as I have been stiffed before.  In Arizona, the expert's 
deposition preparation time has to be paid by the expert's client as it has 
been ruled that this preparation would be used in trial testimony, even 
though it might be several years between deposition and trial.

Some people may ask why I don't charge double my regular rate or more.  I 
don't want to give the impression that I'm testifying for the money, yet 
everyone will recognize that the expert is placed in a really stressful 
situation and that an increase above the regular fee is justified.

Your appearance in the witness chair and your ability to handle questions and 
answer them clearly in an impartial, unbiased manner is going to determine 
whether you will be considered a viable expert by the jury.  If you are in 
over your head, the opposing counsel will make that abundantly clear.

My big problem is educating my client's attorney about what I know, so that 
he/she will be able to ask me the proper questions.  If he/she doesn't ask 
the right question, he/she is not going to get the answer that they want as I 
will not shade or color my testimony.

Hope this helps.

A. Roger Turk, P.E.(Structural)
Tucson, Arizona

Jim Sadler wrote:

>>I am interested in what the going rate for structural engineer expert
witness services.  I don't want to charge too little so as to hurt anyone's
feelings or appear not to be an expert. Any suggestions?<<