What is an Economics Expert Witness?

Geri Terzo

An economics expert witness can help an attorney build a credible case from a financial standpoint. The opinions of these types of witnesses can be extremely influential in a case, because jurors expect the testimony to be objective and might value these remarks more highly than any other evidence in a case. Economic issues can be quite complex, and a jury might need to be educated on these financial matters. By placing an economics expert on the stand who can interpret and analyze data, a judge or jury might better be able to consider the financial dynamics facing both the defense and prosecution in a court case. There are consulting firms dedicated entirely to providing the services of economic experts to the legal system for a fee.

An economics expert witness offers expert advice in court about economic matters.
An economics expert witness offers expert advice in court about economic matters.

An attorney might choose to hire an economics expert witness to testify across a host of issues, including antitrust matters, securities fraud and corporate profitability, or for economic research. A financial expert might be asked to testify when there is any type of financial loss. In a personal injury case, the expert might assess damages, such as a plaintiff's economic status before and after an incident, for example. Ultimately, the testimony is designed to lead a jury or judge to a more fair result.

Once an attorney finds an economics expert witness, this individual could become worth his or her weight in gold. This is because in addition to mastering the fundamentals of economics, a witness who can withstand the pressure from a cross examination becomes an extremely valuable asset to a case. It is important, however, that an attorney does not begin asking an economics expert witness to testify about topics that are unrelated to finances. Sometimes lawyers fall into this trap because there is a highly intelligent witness on the stand who might be knowledgeable in several areas. Using a financial expert to field questions unrelated to economics, however, could compromise a jury's dependence on and interpretation of the expert's testimony about the financial aspects of the case.

Testimony from an economics expert witness might be so influential as to lead a case to be settled out of court. An economic expert might be called upon to provide testimony in a deposition, which is the pretrial segment of a case. Essentially, a deposition is given to prove grounds for a lawsuit before a case goes to trial. The opposing legal counsel receives an opportunity to review this expert witness' testimony. If the facts from the deposition are compelling enough, they might convince an opposing attorney that his or her chances for success have been reduced, which could lead to an out-of-court settlement.

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