Getting to Know Your Engineering Expert (Before You Need Them)

You get a trial scheduling order that you need to disclose experts. This is not the optimum time to start at ground zero looking for your expert. During last minute searches, all CV’s can start to look the same. Or, you could find the perfect CV, be sure you’ve found the perfect expert and not find out until later that your expert can barely speak English and their wardrobe was purchased during the Reagan Administration. You may think that you have all your bases covered. You’ve seen a picture of your designated expert and you were able to discuss the case with them over the phone. All the more surprising when you meet them and discover the picture is 15 years old and they have a peculiar habit of staring at their shoes during every conversation.

There will always be last minute emergencies and searches for experts that didn’t fit into any predictable box, but there’s a great way to get to know your engineering experts before you need them. Bring prospective engineering experts in to present to you on their disciplines. These sessions are often called “Lunch & Learns”. This is the proverbial “Win –Win” for all parties involved. Most engineers should understand the importance of getting in front of their prospective clients and should welcome an opportunity to showcase their expertise and experience.

The wins for you are multiple. First of all, done correctly you may get a sandwich, bagel or slice of pizza out of the presentation. More importantly, you should learn something. These are engineering “experts” after all. As they discuss their latest investigation involving stucco and water intrusion, you may learn something that will help you on a current or future construction defect claim or case. If the presentation involves premises liability investigations, you may learn about a building code you were unaware of or a new study in the field of biomechanics that could be very relevant.

These talks can be informal and less structured, and there are advantages to that, but they can also be official “sanctioned” presentations that allow the attendees to get the much needed CLE or CEU credits and are a great cost benefit for your company.

This is a great way to learn about the latest developments. Maybe you’ve worked with accident reconstructionists for years or decades but it’s always a good idea to keep up with the latest techniques and technological breakthroughs. Maybe there’s new data available on “black box” downloads or techniques for measuring crash sites with lasers that could save your clients thousands of dollars.

Another big win for you is the Q&A period. This is a great opportunity for you to benefit from the engineers years of training and experience and you should take advantage of it. You can use this time to delve more deeply into the presentation subject matter or perhaps bounce “hypothetical” claims off the expert to get their feedback.

But, perhaps the biggest benefit of these “Lunch & Learns” is your ability to get to know the expert; to see him or her in an environment fairly similar to that of a courtroom. It is one thing for an expert to be qualified in a subject; a CV will usually tell us that. It is often quite another thing for an expert to be able to convey that knowledge to laymen. When the engineer is in front of your colleagues discussing a forklift that caused injury, it is easier for you to answer some of these questions:

• Does she appear/sound confident and knowledge?
• Can they explain complex subjects easily?
• Would a jury trust what he says?
• Are they likable? (Will a jury want them to succeed?)

These are questions that are almost impossible to answer by scanning CV’s. But, by seeing an engineer present to your company, you can much more accurately determine how that expert would relate with a potential jury. So, if able, bring in engineers before you need them. Learn from their expertise and know who to call, and maybe who not to call, when you receive that scheduling order. For more information on CED experts or to schedule an engineer to come and talk to your firm please contact one of our case managers at casemanager@cedtechnologies.com or on the web at www.cedtechnologies.com