How Do I Become a Toxicologist Expert Witness?

Terrie Brockmann
Terrie Brockmann
A toxicologist expert witness must have a great deal of education and experience in the field.
A toxicologist expert witness must have a great deal of education and experience in the field.

Typically, if you want to become a toxicologist expert witness, you need extensive college schooling, such as a doctorate in chemistry, biology, or a related science. In some cases, the court permits the expert to have a lesser degree if he or she has extensive training, authorized certification, or experience in the field of toxicology. For example, in some U.S. states, you can give expert testimony if an approved institution, such as the American Board of Forensic Toxicology, certifies you. Normally, the requirements differ by national or regional regulations and laws.

Many toxicologists concentrate on industrial cases, such as pesticide poisoning and industrial chemical ailments.
Many toxicologists concentrate on industrial cases, such as pesticide poisoning and industrial chemical ailments.

To prepare yourself to become a toxicologist expert witness, it is helpful to realize that toxicologists seldom testify in court. In one survey of U.S. court cases, toxicologists testified in only 0.8 percent of the cases. Some experts focus in certain areas of toxicology, and lawyers hire them based on their specialty. A few examples of this are alcohol and drug intoxication, food contamination, and pulmonary diseases caused by chemicals or drugs. Many toxicologists concentrate on industrial cases, such as pesticide poisoning, industrial chemical ailments, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) caused by chemical exposure.

Sometimes a nutritionist, pharmacist, or physician can become a toxicologist expert witness. Many times this person has years of experience in the area of expertise that the lawyer needs to prove or disprove a case. Other occupations that may qualify a person include being a chemist, forensic toxicologist, or environmental toxicologist.

When you have chosen the area of expertise you are interested in, consult books, peer-reviewed journals, and expert witnesses. It is often beneficial to use these sources as a planner for tailoring your career to reach your goal. In general, more expertise is important if you want to become a toxicologist expert witness. Typically, these sources can help you identify your weak areas and improve on them.

To be an expert witness, you need to have skills like the ability to handle stress, to project an air of authority, and a willingness to market your talents. It is helpful if you can be open to advice from the attorneys. This may include suggestions concerning acceptable clothing styles and tips on how to impress the jury or judge. Often people who want to become expert witnesses take classes on communication and speech or hire a speech coach.

Toxicology experts who do not testify in court sometimes work for attorneys as consultants. A consulting expert does not testify, which is important if the person is not adept testifying with an air of authority. In most jurisdictions, a consultant's notes are not submittable; therefore, if the expert finds information that will damage the lawyer's case, it is not admissible. Many times a career as a consultant can help a person become a toxicologist expert witness.

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    • A toxicologist expert witness must have a great deal of education and experience in the field.
      By: qingwa
      A toxicologist expert witness must have a great deal of education and experience in the field.
    • Many toxicologists concentrate on industrial cases, such as pesticide poisoning and industrial chemical ailments.
      By: frog-travel
      Many toxicologists concentrate on industrial cases, such as pesticide poisoning and industrial chemical ailments.