Expert Witness Fee Report: Facts, Figures & Trends In 2017


Check out our 2018 Expert Witness Fee Report Here

The expert witness fee data you’ve been waiting for is finally here! In early 2017, The Expert Institute launched our Expert Witness Fee Calculator which compiles data from over 35,000 expert witness engagements facilitated by The Expert Institute. We just finished refreshing the data with the latest information we’ve gathered over the course of the previous year, and we’re excited to share our findings.

Our Data

The 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 The 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 fee 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 2017 expert witness fee data, we discovered that fees across the board have decreased, with the average national price for case reviews falling by 4%, deposition appearances by 6%, and courtroom testimony by 6%. We can most likely attribute significant fee drops to the larger scale of our data set this year more accurately reflecting the true levels of fees. The 2017 average national fee for initial review was $356.15 — a $15.85 decrease from 2016. The 2017 average national fee for deposition was $447.93 — a $27.07 decrease from 2016. The 2017 average national fee for courtroom testimony was $477.70 — a $29.30 decrease from 2016.

Specialties That Command The Highest Fees

The data has shown that experts in medical fields will command higher fees than their non-medical counterparts. Specifically, Neurosurgeons and Plastic Surgeons tend to command the highest fees of all experts. In addition, experts in extremely specific technical fields, as well as experts retained to work on high-profile cases, also earn higher than average fees.

Fee Comparison: Medical vs. Non-Medical Specialties

Although medical experts still command the highest fees, experts across medical specialties saw steeper decreases in average fees for review, deposition, and court over their non-medical counterparts. Medical expert witnesses saw a 6% decrease in total expert fees according to the data. Non-medical expert witnesses only saw a 4% total fee decrease.

For medical expert witnesses, the 2017 average fee for initial review was $422 — a 5% decrease from 2017. The 2017 average deposition fee was $545 — a 6% decrease from 2016. The 2017 average court fee was $584 — a 6% decrease from 2016. For non-medical expert witnesses, the 2017 average fee for initial review was $267 — a 3% decrease from 2016. The 2017 average deposition fee was $317 — a 3% decrease from 2016. The 2017 average court fee was $328 showing the steepest decrease of all non-medical expert fees — 6% from 2016.

Expert Witness Fees By Region

Regional data shows that expert witnesses on the East Coast are the most expensive across the board. Experts from the Northeast reign in the most expensive. In the Northeast, the 2017 average initial review fee was $364.68, the average deposition fee was $444.31, and the average court fee was $480.55. The South is the second most expensive region for 2017 expert witness fees, with an average initial review fee of $321.94, an average deposition fee of $407.51, and an average court fee of $430.62. The Midwest is the third most expensive region for 2017 expert witness fees, with an average initial review fee of $320.71, an average deposition fee of $415.20, and an average court fee of $425.24. The West is the least expensive region in the United States for expert witness fees, with an average initial review fee of $298.45, an average deposition fee of $380.05, and an average court fee of $403.99.

State-by-State Comparison

In a state-by-state comparison, 7 out of the 10 states with the most expensive expert witness fees are on the East coast. On average, Vermont has the most expensive expert witness fees in the country, with the average hourly cost of initial review being $437.50, average hourly cost of deposition being $539.77, and average hourly cost of trial being $592.80. Rhode Island has the second most expensive expert witness fees in the country, with the average hourly cost of initial review being $411.63, average hourly cost of deposition being $503.79, and average hourly cost of trial being $546.47. New York is the third most expensive state proper, with the average hourly cost of initial review being $379.92, average hourly cost of deposition being $471.13, and average hourly cost of trial being $529.67.

While not a state, Washington D.C. came in as the third most expensive on this list with the average hourly cost of initial review being $404.25, average hourly cost of deposition being $487.48, and average hourly cost of trial being $523.05. 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.

On average, Alaska has the least expensive expert witness fees in the country, with the average hourly cost of initial review being $183.13, average hourly cost of deposition being $269.38, and average hourly cost of trial being $310.625. South Dakota has the second least expensive expert witness fees in the country, with the average hourly cost of initial review being $233.64, average hourly cost of deposition being $315.45, and average hourly cost of trial being $278.61. Maine has the third least expensive expert witness fees in the country, with the average hourly cost of initial review being $239.70, average hourly cost of deposition being $288.60, and average hourly cost of trial being $313.62.

Last year, a range of specialties across disciplines experienced a significant increase in average total price for expert witness services. The top 10 expert witness specialties that saw the greatest fee increase in 2017 are Taxation, Emergency Transportation, Drug Safety, Occupational & Environmental Medicine, Forensic Accounting, Amusement Rides, Hotels and Hospitality, Nutrition, Acoustics, and Neonatology. Taxation expert witnesses saw a staggering 136% fee increase. Emergency Transportation expert witnesses saw an 83% increase in fees and Amusement Ride expert witnesses saw a 35% increase in fees.

The expert specialty areas that saw the greatest expert witness fee decrease in 2017 saw a 32.1% drop. The top 10 specialties with the greatest fee decrease in 2017 are Physics, Orthopedics, Appraisal, Mining, Lightning, Biology, Medical Forensics, Bariatrics, Real Estate/Residential, and Education. Appraisal expert witnesses saw the greatest total percentage change in expert witness fees at a 44% decrease. Physics expert witnesses saw a 42% fee decrease. Mining expert witnesses saw a 40% drop in fees.

The specialty areas that saw the least significant fee change in 2017 were Radiology, Infectious Disease, Accident Reconstruction, Insurance, Medicine, Engineering, OSHA, Banking, Business, and Oncology.

National Fee Changes: Expert fees across the board have decreased. The average national price for initial case review fell by 4%, deposition appearances by 6%, and courtroom testimony by 6%.

Regional Fee Changes: Expert witnesses from the Northeast on the are the most expensive in the country. Experts from the West are the least expensive across the board.

Most Significant Changes By Specialty Area: Taxation expert witnesses saw the greatest total fee increase in 2017 — 136%. Appraisal expert witnesses saw a 44% decrease in expert witness fees.

Travel Expenses

Travel expenses are another area of concern for attorneys when deciding whether to retain an expert witness. While The Expert Institute does not collect data on expert witness travel expenses, we have resources on the general best practices for managing an expert witness’ travel fees to help attorneys and experts determine the best course of action for travel compensation before the engagement begins.

Additional Resources

Aside from fee data, we have worked hard to compile an abundance of premier free resources and information on how to effectively employ expert witnesses. From best communication practices to advice for drafting comprehensive retainer agreements — we have all the literature you need to help you work with expert witnesses efficiently throughout the litigation process:

White Papers:

Ten Warning Signs When Selecting An Expert Witness
Preparing Your Expert Witness For Trial

Blog Articles:

Locating, Retaining, and Employing Effective Expert Witnesses
The 4 Most Common Mistakes When Working With Experts – and How to Avoid Them
How to be a Better Expert Witness
Expert Witness Disclosure Rules: Consulting vs. Testifying Experts
Affidavits of Merit in Medical Malpractice Cases
9 Personal Qualities You Should Look for in an Expert Witness
Are Non-Testifying Witnesses Protected by Attorney-Client Privilege?
Expert Witness Disclosure: The Who, What, When, and How of Avoiding Exclusion
Why Attorneys Should Use an Expert Witness Agency

About The Author

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

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