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Tips for Picking an Expert Witness

An expert witness can make or break a case.

The use of an expert witness in court proceedings can give a party's argument greater legitimacy, but a poorly chosen one can potentially put the entire case in jeopardy, according to accounting firm Marks Paneth &

The use of an expert witness in court proceedings can give a party's argument greater legitimacy, but a poorly chosen one can potentially put the entire case in jeopardy, according to accounting firm Marks Paneth & Shron.

If a corporation finds itself embroiled in a legal issue and is looking for experts to testify on its behalf, it should be sure to find someone who has been proven to be knowledgeable in his or her field and has a firm understanding of which benchmarks are appropriate for use.

"Benchmarking is critical in the analysis of damages from lost profits, lost enterprise value, and business litigation," stated Donald M. May, Ph.D., a former professor at MIT's Sloan School of Management and current director in the firm's litigation and corporate financial advisory services group. He added that if an expert uses the wrong metrics, it can render his or her conclusions incorrect.

Having an expert witness can offer a major advantage when a company is engaged in a contract dispute or a battle over an insurance policy. As the American Society of Safety Engineers writes in an article reprinted by Insurance News Net, an expert witness can be especially useful in fire litigation cases, if they are able to prove that an investigation was "properly conducted, information gathered was thoroughly analyzed and a sound conclusion was reached." 

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