The Costs of Using Experts on Damages

Excerpt from Chapter 2: Issues Preliminary to a Written Analysis of Economic Loss

Economic/Hedonic Damages: The Practice Book for Plaintiff and Defense Attorneys
by Michael L. Brookshire and Stan V. Smith

Fees charged by economic experts, for both written analyses of lost earning capacity and for testimony, vary widely by region of the country and, often, by the experience level of the expert.

At least one economic firm, which advertises extensively, will provide a written loss estimate for as little as $100—but will not provide an expert for testimony or deposition.

For a comprehensive report by an experienced expert, however, an attorney will rarely find a fee less than $1,000 for the economic report alone.

The per diem fee for time spent in deposition or testimony normally ranges from $800 to $2,000 plus expenses. The hourly fee is normally this daily fee divided by eight hours, and an hourly fee is usually quoted in lieu of a lump sum fee in cases other than wrongful death or personal injury, where the work time of the expert is uncertain.

Many economists will provide what is, in effect, a quantity discount for a guarantee of multiple cases from the same law firm in a given time period. A discount should be expected in mass disaster cases, with many analyses performed for the same law firm or consortium of attorneys.

What attorney and forensic economists should never consider is any fee arrangement contingent upon the outcome of a case. Such arrangements eliminate the appearance of neutrality by the expert, at the very least, and also appear to violate the disciplinary rules of the American Bar Association.

A typical agreement will be between the expert and the attorney, as the experienced expert will not wish to have a direct financial relationship with the plaintiff. A retainer will generally be requested before a written analysis is performed, and the balance of the fee for the analysis will be requested within 1-2 months of the receipt of the analysis. A sample agreement between a forensic economist and attorney appears as Appendix 1.

A sample agreement between a forensic economist and attorney

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