2018 Expert Witness Fee Report: National Trends


We just finished refreshing our Expert Witness Fee Calculator with the latest data from thousands of expert witness engagements across all specialties gathered over the course of 2018. Now the expert witness fee data you’ve been waiting for is finally here.

Our Data

Expert Institute is proud to generate the most holistic and accurate expert witness fee data in the industry. Unlike other expert fee reports which rely solely on self-selected survey data, our fee data is derived from real-world engagements across all industries and areas of practice both nationwide and internationally. Our data isn’t available elsewhere because the overwhelming majority of experts who are paired with attorneys through the Expert Institute are practicing professionals who do not advertise their services online. Because of the sheer volume of expert witness engagements that Expert Institute facilitates, our data continues to grow and improve each year.

In this post, we discuss the average expert fees for initial review, deposition appearance, and courtroom testimony. These averages refer to the mean hourly fees experts charge for each of these services. Although most experts request billing at an hourly rate, some experts charge daily rates for deposition appearances and courtroom testimony. We have accounted for this discrepancy in billing structure by dividing daily expert rates by 8 to reflect a typical 8-hour work day.

Key Findings

After compiling our 2018 expert witness fee data, we discovered that fees across the board have stayed relatively the same.

There was a marginal decrease in the average national rate for case reviews, which fell by <1% — from $356.15 in 2017 to $353.26 in 2018. The rate for deposition appearances also saw a marginal decrease of <1% — from $447.93 in 2017 to $446.78 in 2018. The national average rate for courtroom testimony experienced a slightly more significant drop of 3% — from $477.70 in 2017 to $461.53 in 2018.

Specialties That Command The Highest Fees

Experts in medical fields have traditionally tended to command higher fees than their non-medical counterparts. This year’s data reinforced that norm with the top 5 highest paid specialties coming in as Neurosurgery, Orthopedic Surgery, Plastic Surgery, Otolaryngology, and Urology.

The 2018 average combined fee for medical expert witnesses was $478.50 — a 1.5% decrease from the 2017 average of $486.04. In line with last year’s findings, Neurosurgery remains in the top spot, with a combined fee average of $959.68. Orthopedic Surgery jumped into second place over Plastic Surgery (which took second last year) with a combined fee average of $848.95. Plastic Surgery saw a combined fee average of $747.07, Otolaryngology came in at $684.80, and Urology at $624.90.

For non-medical expert witnesses, the 2018 average combined fee was  $296.12 — a 2% decrease from the 2017 average of $301.99. The top 5 most expensive non-medical expert witness specialties are Legal Malpractice, Aviation (Federal Regulations), Intellectual Property, FDA, and Economics. The national combined fee average for Legal Malpractice Experts is $439.99, for Aviation expert witnesses is $412.63, for Intellectual Property expert witnesses is $409.28, for FDA expert witnesses is $385.27, and for Economics expert witnesses is $382.59.

Expert Witness Fees By Region

Consistent with last year’s findings, expert witness fees in the Northeast still command the highest fees for case review, deposition, and courtroom testimony. In the Northeast, the 2018 average combined fee was $426.89, a 1.5% decrease from 2017. The West jumped to the second most expensive region for 2018, with an average combined fee of $414.21. We can likely attribute this jump to an increase in the amount of data collected from California. The Midwest remained the third most expensive region for 2018 expert witness fees, with an average combined fee of $408.71. And the South fell to the least expensive region, with a combined average expert witness fee of $392.90.

State-by-State Comparison

The list of 10 states with the most expensive expert witness fees remained essentially unchanged between 2017 and 2018. No new states joined the list, but a few rankings did shuffle. The top 10 states with the most expensive expert witness fees in 2018 were: Vermont at $483.75, Rhode Island at $472.98, Washington DC at  $463.06, Massachusetts at $449.83, New York at $446.74, Connecticut at $442.71, California at $437.64, Maryland at  $434.64, Illinois at $434.28, Missouri at $434.26.

In 2018, Massachusetts bumped New York out for the #4 spot, Connecticut jumped California for the  #6 spot, and Missouri fell to #10 from the #8 spot. Vermont, Rhode Island, and Washington DC still ring in as the top 3 states with the most expensive fees, however. Vermont’s 2018 average combined fee is $483.75, a 7% decrease from its 2017 combined average fee of $522.56. Rhode Island’s 2018 average combined fee is $472.98, a 1.5% decrease from its 2017 combined average fee of $480.39. Washington DC’s 2018 average combined fee is $463.06, a marginal <1% increase from its 2017 combined average fee of $462.39. It is also worth noting that the top three territories on the list — Vermont, Rhode Island, and Washington DC — rank among the 10 least populated states in the country. Because these areas have less data to draw from than other states, it is possible they are farther removed from the overall mean.

In 2018, there was a significant shift in the top states with the least expensive expert witness fees. Although in 2018 Maine remained the state with the third least expensive fees, the top 2018 spot went to Wyoming and the second least expensive spot went to North Dakota. Wyoming’s 2018 combined fee average was $277.91, a 7.5% decrease from 2017. North Dakota’s 2018 combined fee average was $289.28, a 13% decrease from 2017.  Maine’s 2018 combined fee average was $290.14, a 1.93% increase from 2017.

The 2017 top 3 least expensive states were Alaska, South Dakota, and Maine. In 2018, Alaska saw a 15% increase in fee rates: from a 2017 combined fee average of $254.38 to a 2018 combined average of $293.61. South Dakota also saw a generous 41% increase in fee rates: from a 2017 combined fee average of $281.58 to a 2018 combined fee average of $397.03.

A range of specialties across disciplines experienced a significant increase in average total price for expert witness services in 2018. The top 10 expert witness specialties that saw the greatest fee increases were Medical Forensics, Aviation (Federal Regulations), Botany, Bariatrics, Physical Therapy, Appraisal, Automotive Products Liability, Prison, Automotive Safety, and Lighting. For the second year in a row, Medical Forensics and Bariatrics made the top 10 list of specialties with the greatest increase in expert witness fees.

Medical Forensics expert witnesses saw a 42% fee increase, from $299.16 in 2017 to $425 in 2018. Aviation expert witnesses saw a 41% increase in fees, from $290.97 in 2017 to $412.63 in 2018. And Botany expert witnesses saw a 36% increase in fees, from $240 in 2017 to $326.74 in 2018.

The top 10 expert specialties that saw the greatest decrease in expert witness fee in 2018 were Criminology, Hotels and Hospitality, Emergency Medicine Nursing, Occupational & Environmental Medicine, Cosmetics, Nutrition, Obstetrics Nursing, Hospital Medicine, Drug Safety, and Energy.

Criminology expert witnesses saw the greatest total percentage change in expert witness fees at just shy of a 30% decrease, from $351.08 in 2017 to $246.04 in 2018. Hotels and Hospitality expert witnesses saw a 27% fee decrease, from $374.19 in 2017 to $270.98 in 2018. Emergency Medicine Nursing expert witnesses saw a 24% drop in fees, from $266.21 in 2017 to $201.11 in 2018.

National Fee Changes: Expert fees across the board have stayed essentially the same.The average national hourly rate for initial case review is $353.26. The average hourly rate for deposition appearances is $446.78. The average rate for courtroom testimony is $461.53.

Regional Fee Changes: Expert witnesses from the Northeast and the West are the most expensive in the country. Experts from the South are the least expensive.

State Fee Changes: Vermont, Rhode Island, and Washington DC still have the most expensive expert witness fees. Wyoming, North Dakota, and Maine have the least expensive expert fees.

Most Significant Changes By Specialty Area: Medical Forensics expert witnesses saw a 42% fee increase. For the second year in a row, Medical Forensics and Bariatrics are among the top 10 expert specialties with the greatest increase in expert witness fees.

About The Author

Victoria Negron is a content writer and strategist who specializes in legal news and blog writing.