Who needs a forensic physician including psychiatrists, or psychologists? What drives the demand?


Jurisprudence and the Constitutional Right to Due Process Drive the Need for the Expert Witness, as do Laws at the Federal, State and Administrative Level.  

To provide those protections, retention in litigation or criminal law comes from:

Attorneys. Plaintiff, Defense, Applicant, Respondent, Prosecution–the parties to a legal action have many titles but the point is the same: the representing attorneys owes their client the best representation which might require Expert Witness testimony.

Types of Counsel, a Partial List:

Attorneys in private practice, paid hourly, on contingency, pro bono (for free), in collaboration with co-counsel as found in large class action lawsuits (mass torts).

Public Defenders

Districts Attorney

Untied States Attorneys in Federal District Court Jurisdictions

JAG (Judge Advocate General) – Military Court


Courts: The uglier the dispute and more uncooperative the parties, the more likely it will be necessary for the judge to appoint an impartial third party expert.

Employers. Employers, OSHA, the ADA, Unions and EEOC all address who is employed and what to do when people and their jobs go awry. 

Can a person perform the essential functions of their job?

For example, a forensic psychiatrist or psychologist is asked to conduct an assessment of an employee if there is a concern he or she is unable to perform their job effectively and safely due to mental health impairment.

A medical condition and job performance. Disability is a laden term with a real application. A heart condition, uncontrolled diabetes, cancer, combination-co-morbidities-that tamper with function, efficiency and workplace safety can require forensic assessment. Disability and Workers’ Compensation Adjusters may be involved.

Safety-sensitive jobs. The stakes can be explosive. The employee may be an Air Traffic Controller or manage a nuclear power plant, even a janitor with access to an oil refinery’s controls is a risk if their performance is compromised.

Decisions are Compromised. Understandably, a medically or psychologically compromised person is, for example, a concern if he or she is working in a power plant or carries firearms as a feature of their job, for example.

Violence.  Violent or threatening employees require a special type of assessment focused on risk of violence.  Medical conditions that change behavior in any way are a concern.

The Employer’s Legal Duties: The employer has a duty to other employees to provide a safe workplace.  A violent event with firearms is only one way in which a job environment may be unsafe.  Sexual harassment, wrongful termination and discrimination lawsuits may also require an evaluation by a forensic psychiatrist or psychologist.

Administrative Venues. Workers’ Compensation, Discrimination Complaints to the EEOC, certain Union regulations, even sentencing mitigation may operate outside the typical trial setting and a psychiatric condition or other medical condition should be evaluated by a skilled expert. “When is your opinion needed?”  offers examples of cases that can benefit from assessment by a forensic expert in psychiatry or psychology, or other relevant medical specialty.