Practice Development for Medical Expert Witnesses
Beryl Vaughan, Consultant
Nationwide

Email go@forensicexpertpro.com or Call (415) 302-9589

How much do Medical Expert Witnesses Earn? What can you charge?

This is the question I hear the most often. I write on the topic in depth for the benefit of medical specialists using as an example Psychiatrists and Psychologists–but data can extrapolate to a number of specialties. I dive into the hard data and a comprehensive discussion in:

Setting the Right Fee in Medical-Legal Work
Overview:

Your fees have a direct relationship:

  • How easy it is to find you
  • How easy it is to reach you*
  • Your demonstrated knowledge and credibility
  • The quality of your reports (get feedback and improve)
  • Times you’ve testified and positive impression made on attorneys and triers of fact
  • How many attorneys that know you and your positive reputation.
  • The number of inquiries you receive from attorneys

*Surprisingly, attorneys report they often retain the first Expert who takes their call.

Approach with Care Surveys, Websites like Salaries.com, or Government Data

In the linked article I explain why and how surveys by industry professionals or even the Bureau of Labor Statistics are unreliable. I dive into alternative sources to know how much you should charge.

Rules of Thumb

The range for medical or medical-adjacent fields range from $250 – $1200 in my experience. Let’s parse this range down to you.

Factors that influence the lowest fees are being in a physician-adjacent field such as Nurse Practitioners or LCSWs.

Psychologists or others with a PhD or PsyD rarely earn as much as MDs and DOs with exceptions:

  • Specialty knowledge in a targetted area.
  • Testimony experience and a reputation for quality testimony.
  • Education and Credentials.
  • Clinical experience. The jury needs to know you walk the talk.
  • Geography. Experts in cities earn more than those in rural areas with these EXCEPTIONS: 1. rarity–if you are the only expert in a lightly populated area, and 2. you are skilled at IMEs and testimony by videoconferencing/remote./li>

The Numbers

1-3 years of medicolegal experience in 12+ cases per year and who have testified 5-15 times: the mean is nearer $600-650.
Mid-career doctors with sound credentials and testimony experience may charge $650-800.
A doctor at the top of their field and considerable testimony experience may expect to charge as much as $1,000-1,300/hour.
Testimony itself is charged at about a 40% higher rate than the base rate.

Profit = Fee income, less expenses.

Projected Income you control: your hours in demand x your fee (increasing over time) less expenses.

Income is limited to how often you are retained. Thus, income is driven by demand.

Demand is generated through action.

Whatever you decide to charge, don’t intentionally try to undersell your competition.

Your services are not available on Groupon.

Further, your rate reflects your experience. If you cut your rate because you want more work, it will be easier for attorneys to assume the rate is an accurate reflection of your (in)experience, even if it is not.