In a matter of alleged professional negligence, a complaint cannot be filed without an expert's report. At one time I viewed this requirement as just one more roadblock to seeking redress against a professional. I still feel that's somewhat true, but I've also personally seen that there is a definite advantage to investing in an expert's report early on in the proceedings.
This is because the expert's report will often estimate or even calculate the damages incurred against the plaintiff. Admittedly, an expert report prepared before a full investigation is finished may need to be updated to reflect additional findings. Even so, it is still immensely helpful to begin our work with a ballpark figure in mind.
The time and effort needed for a full investigation come at a price. We will always do right by our clients and work within their budget constraints, putting in the needed work to hopefully gain a favorable outcome. But if an expert determines that a case will probably result in a low recovery, we would likely advise our client to settle. Of course the final say comes from our client, but from our point of view, their return wouldn't justify their investment.
On the other hand, we recently worked on a case in which an early expert's report estimated damages of roughly $2.5 million. Yes, the report was an upfront cost to obtain. But having that valuable data in hand allowed us to make more strategic decisions, operating from a position of certainty. That early expert's report proved to be so helpful to our efforts to chart the best course forward.
And let's be honest - knowing upfront what a case could be "worth" will influence both parties' handling of the matter. Estimated damages of tens of thousands compared to possibly millions of dollars will make a huge difference in whether we decide to take a case to trial or advocate for an early settlement. On the defendant's end, a high damages estimate is a piece of information that their insurance company would definitely want to have in hand as early as possible. And again, it could help to determine their defense, their propensity to settle, and the trajectory of the case as a whole.
For these reasons we now admit that there is a distinct advantage to investing early in an expert's report, even when it isn't required. At Calkins Law Firm we have extensive experience in various legal realms, but we are never too experienced to learn something new. And we aren't so locked into any one mindset that we can't see value and wisdom in a shift. If you've been looking to work with a legal team that is nimble and ready to adjust to changing circumstances, give us a call to learn how we can help.