The following are some suggestions for how to conduct a cross-examination of a life care planner serving as an expert witness. Life care planning expert witnesses are used to address the issue of damages in personal injury and medical malpractice cases. Life care planner expert witnesses are often involved in catastrophic injury, high dollar value cases. There are a number of issues that may present opportunities for effective cross examination of a life care planning expert witness. These include:
Life care planner cross-examination issue #1. Who recommended the treatment, device or accommodation? Did the life care planner recommend it themselves? Was the life care planner qualified to make the recommendation? Did a treating doctor recommend the treatment or was it recommended by a hired for litigation purposes medical consultant who only saw the patient for a few minutes of never saw the patient at all? Does the life care planner agree with the recommendation?
Life care planner cross-examination issue #2. Was the basis for the cost projections reasonable and reliable? Did the life care planner expert witness consult multiple sources and shop around for a lower price? Is the life care planner expert aware that the item in question is available for a lower price? (Often times the showing of one exaggerated cost can bring all of the cost projections into question). Did the life care planning expert witness do the costing analysis themselves? If not, who did this work? Was the person this was farmed out to qualified? Did the expert use a costing resource or database? How reliable is that database? Was it adjusted for local conditions? Did the life care planner use the published price for medical services or what doctors typically accept from insurance companies or would accept from a fee for service patient? Did the life care planner expert just plug in what they would charge as a provider and not establish market rates through research? Did the expert account for a medication going off patent in the future? Did the expert actually call and talk to providers to get cost information?
Life care planner cross-examination issue #3. Was the life expectancy used for cost projections specific to the person in question or did it come from a standard life table? Often times the person being evaluated in the life care plan has significant comorbidities that would suggest against a “typical” life expectancy.
Life care planner cross-examination issue #4. Are the future medical needs both reasonable and not speculative? What research, literature and other information did the life care planner use to corroborate the need for these items? Was the person even at maximum medical improvement? Could the person get better? Isn’t it inherently inaccurate to project this far out in time? What if new treatments are developed?
Life care planner cross-examination issue #5. Information obtained from the subject. Did the life care planner expert witness examine the person in question themselves? Was this in person or via telemedicine? Was the information provided by the person in question (or the person’s family) corroborated in any way or just taken at face value?
Conclusion: The above areas may provide fruitful areas of cross examination when trying to challenge the opinion of a life care planner at deposition or trial. Life care planning expert witnesses should be cognizant of the above issues and be well prepared to deal with them at deposition and trial.
James J. Mangraviti, Jr., Esq., is a Principal of SEAK, Inc. – The Expert Witness Training Company. Jim has trained thousands of expert witnesses through seminars, conferences, corporate training, training for professional societies, and training for governmental agencies including the FBI, IRS, SEC, NYPD, Secret Service, and Department of Defense. He is also frequently called by experts, their employers, and retaining counsel to train and prepare individual expert witnesses for upcoming testimony. Mr. Mangraviti assists expert witnesses one-on-one with report writing, testimony preparation, mentoring, and practice development. He is a former litigator. Mr. Mangraviti received his BA degree in mathematics summa cum laude from Boston College and his JD degree, cum laude, from Boston College Law School. Mr. Mangraviti has designed dozens of expert witness training programs and has personally taught experts in a group setting over 200 times since 1997. He is the co-founder of SEAK’s Expert Witness Directory. Jim can be contacted at Phone: 978-276-1234 or Email: email@example.com