top of page

The Physician Expert Witness Fee Schedule: What to Include

If you’ve been contacted by an attorney about a possible expert witness opportunity, you will likely be asked to provide a fee schedule outlining your rates for expert witness work. We often have questions on the physician communities asking what a fee schedule is, or if anybody has a template that can be used. In this article, we’ll cover what needs to go into a fee schedule, and how to go about determining your rates.


Example Expert Witness Fee Schedule

Disclaimer: Please do your own due diligence before making decisions based on this page. Nothing on this page constitutes formal or personalized legal advice. We are not formal financial, legal, or otherwise licensed professionals, and you should consult these as appropriate. To learn more, visit our disclaimers and disclosures.


Quick Links



Example Expert Witness Fee Schedule

[ENTITY NAME]

[Name] [Address]

[Phone number or email-address]

[Website, if applicable]

Legal Service Fee Schedule (Subject to change)

5 hour minimum retainer of $[ ],  prepaid in full before services are scheduled and confirmed, credited towards services below, and non-refundable once work has commenced.

Case Review (billed in increments of 1 hour)

  • Initial Review of Case : $[ ] per hour

  • Telephone consultation: $[ ] per hour

  • Face to Face Consultation: $[ ] per hour

  • Report writing: $[ ] per hour

 

Depositions:

  • 3 hour minimum, prepaid: $[ ]    

  • Additional time must be paid on the day of deposition, and will be billed at the hourly rate of $[ ]/hour.

  • 50% of the prepayment is due at the time of scheduling, with the balance paid in full by [ ] weeks prior to the scheduled date.  If you or the opposing party cancels the appointment [ ] weeks in advance, a full refund will be made.  If you cancel the appointment with [ ] weeks notice, 50% of the deposit will be returned.  This is no refund for cancellations or rescheduling with less than [ ] weeks notice.

  • Preparation time billed at Telephone Consultation rate in the Case Review section.

Trial Testimony:

  • Local: $[ ]/day for reservation of 4 hours, prepaid.  Additional hours beyond the minimum will be billed at $[ ]/hour.

  • Out of town: $[ ]/day for reservation of 8 hours, prepaid.  Additional hours beyond the minimum will be billed at $[ ]/hour.

  • All time is portal to portal including travel or waiting time.   

  • One day retainer requested [ ] weeks prior to the date of testimony or if out of town, the date of travel.  

  • First day must be prepaid in full, with subsequent contiguous days paid on the day of delivered services in increments of half days with 1 PM being the half day mark.

  • 50% of the prepayment is due at the time of scheduling, with the balance paid in full by [ ] weeks prior to the scheduled date.  If you or the opposing party cancels the appointment [ ] weeks in advance, a full refund will be made.  If you cancel the appointment with [ ] weeks notice, 50% of the deposit will be returned.  This is no refund for cancellations or rescheduling with less than [ ] weeks notice.

  • Preparation time billed at Telephone Consultation rate in the Case Review section.

​​

Other Terms:

  • Please send all records in electronic format.

  • All lodging, transportation, and reasonable out of pocket expenses related to delivery of the service (including copying charts, printing, certifying, etc) are reimbursed at actual cost.

  • Accounts are considered past due if not paid within 30 days and are subject to a late charge fee of 2% per month overdue.



Components of an Expert Witness Fee Schedule 


The fee schedule can be as detailed or simple as you want it to be. For a lot of expert witnesses, the details in the example fee schedule above will either be covered on a fee schedule or as part of the expert witness contract. While we recommend having a contract if you intend to start a more regular side gig as a physician expert witness, you may not have this in place the first time you’re contacted about expert witness work; therefore, we’ve intentionally made our sample more detailed. At the very least, we think your fee schedule should include:


  • Your hourly rate for non-deposition and non-testimony related work

  • The retainer that you charge upfront to begin work

  • Your rates for deposition and testimonial work

  • Other miscellaneous fees



Expert Witness Fee Schedule: The Baseline Hourly Rate


This is the hourly rate that you will charge for any case review work that isn’t related to testimony or deposition work, which tends to be billed at a higher rate given the depth of involvement and preparation involved with those hours. If you want, you can also break this down into further categories as shown on the fee schedule above, or keep it uniform.


What we see for rates

On our expert witness database for our communities (you must be a member of Physician Side Gigs to join), we see most rates between $350-800/hour. A lot of this will depend on the specialty, years of experience, and any special areas of expertise or titles that you have. The more specialized you are (or the more years of training you’ve done), rates tend to be higher. 


A note about determining rates

We see this work as similar to consulting work, so we believe you should get paid similar to what you would in a 1099 role - i.e. higher than your normal hourly earnings rate as a physician. For example, if you’re in a specialty where you are making $150/hour on a normal basis, that is your salaried work, where you also get benefits such as retirement contributions and health insurance, as well as payroll taxes paid, and a guaranteed number of hours that over the year leads to a substantial amount of money. This is work that you’re doing in your free time, and should be billed at a higher rate than what you’re making clinically, especially as it will be taxed as self-employed income.



Expert Witness Fee Schedule: The Retainer


The retainer is the amount of money that you are going to charge upfront to take on the case. It is HIGHLY recommended that you charge a retainer to offset the initial opportunity costs of doing this work. By the time you’ve agreed to a rate and to take on the case, you’ve likely already put in a significant amount of time taking the initial phone call with the attorney’s office, learning about the case, and going back and forth on rate and contract. It would be an awful ROI on your time to then bill for one hour of work and have the attorney’s office decide they got the information they needed out of you.


Therefore, we recommend that your retainer charges an upfront fee that is equivalent to the minimum amount that would make your upfront opportunity cost of taking on the work worthwhile. For most physicians, this tends to be a multiple of 3-5x their baseline hourly rate. This retainer is credited to your billable hours, but we recommend that this fee is nonrefundable regardless of how long the firm uses you for the reasons above.


Some people will charge this fee in repeated blocks, so every time the number of hours is exhausted, they’ll bill for another block. Based on our experience talking with attorneys, this is less favored as it would be hard for them to pay a full five hours if you go 30 min over your initial retainer. Even if the subsequent retainers are refundable, it’s a pain to send payments back and forth. Therefore in most cases, we just recommend billing as you go at regular intervals, with the understanding that the final product will not be delivered to them until all the payments have been made.


Expert Witness Fee Schedule: Depositions and Testimony


This is where pricing gets really tricky. Unlike the rest of your work as an expert witness, which you likely fit around your schedule as a physician and your vacation time, you are being asked to commit a fixed block of time on a working day. This likely requires taking PTO or at least not seeing patients for a portion of the day, and depending on your specialty and how you’re paid (for example, if you’re in private practice and eat what you kill, or in an RVU based contract), those numbers can add up fast. 


Furthermore, if travel is required, there are lots more opportunity costs - the time spent making travel arrangements, the time to make arrangements for home life if you’re going to be away (childcare, etc), and of course the time spent traveling itself. 


What we see for rates

As such, most physician expert witnesses will bill this portion in either half or full day blocks, at a rate that’s significantly higher than their hourly rate. Additionally, some physicians will charge extra ‘overtime’ rates for the inconvenience if the number of hours extends past the anticipated number of hours (for example, a 10 hour deposition day instead of an 8 hour day).



Expert Witness Fee Schedule: Miscellaneous


Occasionally there will be extra costs related to the cost of doing business. Many times these aren’t significant enough to warrant the hassle of billing separately when you’re charging a high hourly rate. However, these are examples of things you can mention on your fee schedule that you may charge extra for:

  • Copying charts, printing, certifying documents, etc, or paying someone to do so (if you charge for your time here, be reasonable - this should not be at your hourly rate as an expert)

  • Travel related fees such as mileage, airfare, meals, lodging, ground transportation

  • Overdue payment fees

  • Fees specific to a case (local case requirements for an expert witness - certificates, notarizations, etc.)



Conclusion

Expert witness work can compensate very well - we encourage you to know your worth in this space and ask for it. It’s important that all fees are laid out transparently and as early as possible to ensure a smooth relationship with the hiring attorney or law firm. A well done fee schedule will accomplish these goals and allow you to focus on what you’re being hired to do.

bottom of page