Did you know that consumer debt cases are one of the most rapidly growing case type in the country? If you’re a consumer debt attorney, your services are more in demand than ever before.
But if you’re seeing an influx of consumer debt cases, you may be encountering new and unfamiliar parts of the credit and debt industry. And even if you are highly familiar with this complex industry, you’ll be facing judges, juries, and courtrooms who often aren’t.
How do you handle such a technically complex and rapidly growing caseload? A credit expert witness can help. Read on to learn more.
Expert Witnesses Can Quantify Economic Damages
Many lawsuits come down to questions about cold, hard figures. Your client is suing for damages or trying to avoid paying them. The question of how large those damages actually are is one of the case’s biggest questions.
Quantifying damages accurately, however, is no small task.
A debt-related incident may change a consumer’s credit score by just ten points. How do those ten points affect the consumer’s economic outlook down the road? There’s no obvious answer, so each side can choose an economic impact theory that supports their client.
A credit expert witness, however, can use analysis and industry tests to determine impacts and establish firm figures. These figures are more likely to be accepted by the court because they aren’t just client guesses. They have industry backing.
Quantifying damages accurately doesn’t just attach a trustworthy number to your client. It also helps your legal case by laying out the exact nature of the damages caused.
You can think of an economic damages analysis like an itemized bill. If you receive a one-line bill for a huge amount, you’d likely suspect that someone is trying to overcharge you.
When the bill comes itemized, you can see exactly where each figure comes from and why the biller thinks the charge is fair. You’re more likely to pay a bill when you understand it. Courtrooms approach cases quantifying damages the same way.
Expert Witnesses Provide Objective, Credible Analysis
We tend not to think of courtrooms as very objective places. Au contraire: courtrooms are where two sides of a consumer debt case go to battle, trying to sway everyone in the room to one side or the other.
That’s a frustrating reality if you’re an attorney with a solid factual case. Because of your financial relationship with your client, you’re seen as a non-neutral party.
The same principle applies to any of your client’s coworkers, business partners, or friends. These people have a pre-existing relationship with the client. They’re likely to be perceived as biased no matter how emotionless and fact-filled their testimony is.
Expert witnesses are different because they have no pre-existing relationship with your client. And while they do have a financial relationship to the case, they don’t have the same obligations to your client as you, their attorney, have.
A good expert witness can be a truly objective party in the courtroom. Their objectivity makes the jury or judge far more likely to believe and trust them.
Of course, expert witnesses shouldn’t be a “hired gun” for whatever side hires them. An expert who comes off that way won’t have much more credibility than the client themselves.
Expert Witnesses Explain Complex Concepts and Educate Courtrooms
Have you ever had a great professor for a class covering a complicated, highly technical subject? Good professors can convey complex information in a way that makes sense to newcomers. Bad professors leave bright students feeling confused and bored.
In short: good teachers don’t just have a mountain of technical knowledge. They also have the communication skills to actually teach.
Consumer debt cases can involve complicated arrangements and technical, obscure legal terminology. It can be hard for the courtroom to understand the logic of your case when they don’t even understand the words you use.
A good expert in a courtroom isn’t that different from a good professor in a classroom. They have the communication skills to educate listeners about the complex world of consumer debt. That education makes your jury, judge, or arbitration board more likely to understand your facts and your case.
Experts Help Identify Strong Litigation and Defense Options
A layperson may assume that consumer debt cases are simple. It’s just a question of whether someone owes money or not, right?
But even attorneys who have only dabbled in this field understand that the reality can be far more complicated. And even the most experienced attorneys may miss some of the less obvious legal arguments in a consumer debt case.
Experts can serve as a highly trained second set of eyes when attorneys consider legal strategies. With their insider knowledge of credit and debt laws and institutions, an expert may identify a legal strategy that blindsides the other side. They may also be able to predict “sneaky” strategies from your opponents.
Keep in mind that expert witnesses belong to “both sides” once they officially share their opinion with the court. That means the opposing side may depose them or question them on the stand. They aren’t shielded by the attorney-client privilege.
If you are planning on designating an expert as a witness, that fact may mean you need to keep them shielded from certain litigation strategy discussions.
Not All Expert Witnesses are Good Expert Witnesses
The legal requirements for designating a witness as an “expert” are actually quite broad. The witness must possess “knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education” in a subject area relevant to the facts of the case.
But can everyone who calls themselves a “credit expert” on their webpage actually provide all the benefits of a credit expert witness?
The answer is no. Quality matters significantly when it comes to your expert witness. In addition to technical knowledge, a good expert witness has credibility, excellent communication skills, and plenty of industry experience.
I use my ten years of experience in the credit industry to be this kind of expert witness. I have the technical expertise to support your argument and the communication skills to ensure your courtroom actually understands it. To learn more about how I can help consumer debt attorneys, contact me today.