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Expert Witness Fee Multiplier?
2

Expert Witness Fee Multiplier?

Expert Witness Fee Multiplier?

(OP)
I'm interested to know whether you charge standard rates for all involvement in litigation support/expert witness work, if you differentiate between the engineering work and the appearance work at either deposition or trial, or if you just charge a different hourly rate throughout for litigation work as compared to other engineering work.

I would also like to know if you differentiate, whether that is a personal decision or a corporate decision and the reasoning behind it.

There are obvious schools of thought along each of the lines.  I will toss in my $0.02 after some response as I don't want to, as the opposing attorney would claim, "lead the witness"!

RE: Expert Witness Fee Multiplier?

as in other engineering work, you should charge a fee which is commensurate with the level of difficulty and/or level of risk. we do differentiate, rates for court appearances are often as much as double the ordinary rate.  Generally, staff rates are also higher, as preparation for trial usually supercedes all other projects and often requires overtime be worked to keep all projects on schedule.

The cost of doing business is higher in court, so the justification should be a corporate one.

RE: Expert Witness Fee Multiplier?

Ron,

Usually my firm charges me out at 'my wage' times 2.5 to 3.  For ease of calculation, say my wage is $30/hr so the client on a fairly long, complicated project would expect to see $75 to $90/hour charges.  Because arbitration/litigation may only last a few days or hours and would take me away from other, long duration, steady clients,  it is not uncommon to have them propose 'my wage' times 10 to 15 or or about $300 to $450/hr.  This is because it is hard to insert me into or remove me from a long term project for short time gains.

Disclaimer:  The multiplier is correct.  The assumed wage is hypethetical, therefore the consulting fee is also a 'guess-t-mate'

RE: Expert Witness Fee Multiplier?

Just a question to add on to this... How does Expert Witnessing affect your E+O insurance?  It made mine increase.  This was some of my justification to increase my own rate.  I was not so brave as to add a X 10 . I did raise it 25%

The truth will set you free. Best of luck. Geodude

RE: Expert Witness Fee Multiplier?

My billing rate increases by approximately 30% for litigation and court related matters.  In addition, time to prepare reports, etc. is usually increased a bit, due to the extra care and wording (I know that all work should be undertaken with a similar degree of care, but with litigation related issues, in particular, those already with a lawyer, I re-do a draft in greater detail and more often).  

RE: Expert Witness Fee Multiplier?

2
Ron:

Forensic Engineering rates (at least mine) are higher than for engineering design.  The justification for me is that I must spend a greater amount of time (not billable) to maintain and develop my skills as an expert witness (not necessarily engineering).  You must be up to speed in any area that you are going to testify in.  You also must be "ready" once you start a case.  This means you may defer other work which you may not regain.

You must have a rate schedule established along with any other reimbursable expenses you can anticipate.  Because you may have to prove to the court that your fee is customary and ordinary.  If you wind up in a fee hearing after the trial, other peers will testify regarding your rate and it can be reduced.  This may or may not be a problem depending on your agreement with your attorney.  Forensic work for individuals or insurance companies is easier because you agree on a fee before you start.

It appears to me that 1.5 to 2X multiplier of your design fee is normal for forensic work.  However, the best way to stay current is to join the National Acadamy of Forensic Engineers and be active.  This is the only forensic organization that maintains a certified membership with continuing education required.  Good Luck.

David J. Haley, PE, NSPE, NAFE

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