Differences Between Experts

Experts, like many other professionals, come in all shapes and sizes with different skills, personalities, and costs.  We all know that in every profession there are different levels of the quality of work, whether it is a contractor, a mechanic, a lawyer, or a doctor.  The same is true with forensic experts.  One of the most important abilities for an expert is the gift of communication.  Not only does an expert have to have the experience and knowledge to solve a problem, but it is imperative that they have the ability to communicate and educate others.  First, the expert must be able to communicate their findings in an understandable manner to the client.  The client needs to make decisions based on that information.  Secondly, the expert must be able to communicate findings to the opposing side in a deposition.  Thirdly, they must be able to communicate their findings and opinions to a jury so that they can understand what the expert is saying and hopefully, make a reasonable decision based on that testimony.

How To Pick An Expert

The factors that are considered in hiring an expert include, but are not limited to: price or cost, experience, number of cases they have worked on, specific expertise, specialized training, education, and courtroom or deposition testimony experience.  In more recent times, with the downturn in the economy, the hourly rate or cost of an expert has become a consideration. Before hiring an expert, you want to not only look at their hourly rate, but also what the total job is going to cost. There have been cases where an expert did not have a lot of qualifications in a specific area and spent three days on the scene of an explosion and still had not determined the cause.  A gas expert was brought in and the

problem was solved within two hours.  (This is why you do not go to an internal medicine doctor for heart surgery.)  Even though the gas expert had a higher hourly rate than the fire origin and cause expert, the net cost was significantly less for the gas expert.  In  the old days it used to be said that “an expert” was someone that was brought in from out of state.  The dictionary defines an expert as, someone having or displaying special skill or knowledge derived from training or experience.

Does He Play Well With Others?

In virtually all of the investigations that are done today, multiple parties are put on notice. There can be two or three experts or as many as 10 or 20 experts present at a loss site.  It is important that the experts “play well together.”  An expert that is known, respected, and liked by others can not only speed up the process of an inspection and make it more pleasant, but make it more likely that all of the information necessary to form an opinion, is gathered.  If the expert is respected, his suggestions for procedures for the examination and testing will carry more weight and will more likely ensure that the work that is done in the field or laboratory is done properly.  The nature of the forensic investigation creates an adversarial scenario.  However, this should not mean that the work can not be accomplished in a professional, thorough, and efficient manner.

Does The Firm Have People With More Than One Area of Expertise?

It is very helpful to have a firm with multiple areas of expertise.  Situations arise with many losses where, for instance, in a fire you may need an electrical engineer, a gas engineer, a structural engineer and/or a fire suppression system specialist.  When you hire an individual, find out what the capability of that firm’s experts.  On a large loss, the “team” can be brought in to assist.

What Kind Of Facilities Does The Expert Have Access To?

It is important that the expert have access to facilities for laboratory examinations and testing.  Does the   expert have the necessary space and equipment to    conduct the examination and testing?


When you are looking for an expert, talk to others to see who they recommend. These investigations typically start out with a scene examination with the insurance adjuster as the client.  Subsequently, it moves up to litigation and a lawyer is retained.  If it is likely for the case to go to deposition or trial, it is very helpful to talk with lawyers to find out who they like and respect as experts.


There are many factors to consider when hiring an expert.  With the slowdown of the economy, there seem to be more people trying to get into the forensic field.  Consider all the variables and hire the person or firm that will do the best job for your case.

This entry was posted in Forensic Engineering, Oil and Gas Industry, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Can I just say what a comfort to find somebody who actually understands what they’re discussing on the web. You definitely realize how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More people should check this out and understand this side of the story. I was surprised you are not more popular because you surely possess the gift.

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