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Construction Defect Litigation: The Critical Role of the Expert Forensic Witness

[fa icon="calendar"] Apr 12, 2021 9:45:00 AM / by Mark McGivern, CSI, Aff. M. ASCE

Expert witnesses are a critical part of construction defect cases, whether the outcome of a case is determined through a trial or arbitration. Attorneys rely heavily on expert witnesses to support them in understanding the facts of the case, the cause of the defect, and what is required to repair the defect.

What is the role of an expert witness in a construction defect case? Expert witnesses provide useful technical information about issues including design and construction, standards of care, practices, and construction contracts. They offer their opinion about what went wrong, how to make it right, the time it will take to make the repair, and how much it will cost.

To help attorneys and insurance professionals recruit, select, and manage expert witnesses for their cases, here is guiding advice gleaned from decades of being an expert witness on dozens of cases, on how what makes the most effective expert witness for your case.

 The responsibilities of an expert witness

Whether an expert witness is working for the plaintiff or the defendant, their primary job is to assemble facts and opinions to support construction-related claims. The attorneys are the advocates and litigation experts. The experts work closely with the attorneys to develop their arguments and cases, and remain independent. The job of the expert witness is to help lawyers understand the technical issues involved in a case. They must develop and implement an efficient and thorough investigation into the construction defect, and perhaps most importantly, ensure that it can withstand the rigors of testimony in a court of law.

 The expert investigates and offers opinions on a wide variety of technical issues related to design, construction, codes, standards, practices, and construction contracts (contractual or legal arguments aside). The expert needs to explain these opinions in language and concepts that are understandable to attorneys, judges, and juries. All of these areas can significantly impact the outcome of a case.

Experts who specialize in forensic investigation and litigation as part of their professional practice develop specific knowledge and skills to develop objective, defensible opinions that may be used in resolution of a case at mediation, arbitration, or trial.

Regardless of which side retains the expert, the methods and standards of the investigation should not differ in their objectivity, basis, and use of sound data and research. The expert’s credibility with the client, judge, jury, and opposing side lies in providing valid opinions based on the facts. These facts are supported by qualified and quantified data and accepted industry literature and methods.

The team at CCA has been involved in hundreds of cases as an expert in deposition, mediation, arbitration, and trial testimony in federal and state courts across the US. We understand the importance of being an expert witness, and are ready to help you with your case. Contact us today. 


Download your copy of 8 Questions to Qualify Your  Construction Defect Expert Witness



Each retention and investigation is different. The comments and opinions expressed are general in nature and are not intended as legal or expert advice for any particular investigation. Always seek qualified counsel to advise you on your particular case or investigation before retaining an expert. The processes and considerations discussed are general in nature, and may not be applicable to every case. 


Topics: Engineering, Litigation Support, Construction, Construction Defect, Forensics, Insurance