If you are an attorney, you are probably already familiar with hiring an expert witness for your case. Choosing the right expert witness is important. Most attorneys have worked with expert witnesses at some point in their career, but most haven’t hired a Forensic Document Examiner.
If your case involves a forged check, a last will and testament, pre-nuptial agreement, contract, or a signature that doesn’t seem to be authentic, you should be looking for a Forensic Document Examiner.
You should know a couple of things before you make your first phone call to a Forensic Document Examiner. First of all, how many documents do you need analyzed. These are the documents that you and your client think may be forged or not authentic. The Forensic Document Examiner will refer to these as “questioned documents”. This is important to know since the Forensic Document Examiner will charge a fee per questioned document.
Most Forensic Document Examiners charge a flat rate between $600 – $1500 for a written opinion of one or two documents. Rates do vary depending on the number of questioned documents. Attorneys can also request a retainer. Retainers can vary, but are normally $2,500 and most are non-refundable. You should download the fees from the Forensic Document Examiner’s website to avoid any surprises.
You will also need to provide samples of your clients known handwriting so the Forensic Document Examiner can compare them against the questioned document(s). These exemplars are commonly referred to as Known Documents. The known documents should be from the same time frame and you should provide as many known documents as you can. For a Forensic Document Examiner to do the best job possible, the known samples should also be a high quality copy. No one is going to win a case by looking at a poor fax copy.
Do you have to hire a local Forensic Document Examiner? Most attorneys and clients feel they have to hire someone in their own hometown. However this simply isn’t true anymore. Most cases these days can be inspected through high resolution scans, email, faxes and overnight mail. If your case involves originals, and the originals can’t be sent overnigh, then you might incur an additional travel expense so the Forensic Document Examiner can review the original documents.
Is it worth it to hire a Forensic Document Examiner and pay them to travel? Hiring a Forensic Document Examiner is like buying a parachute. You never want to buy a parachute based on the lowest price. You would always want to buy the safest parachute regardless of cost. Hiring a Forensic Document Examiner is no different. You want the most qualified and experienced examiner for your case and not the examiner who is the closest. You can tell who the most the most qualified and experienced examiner is by looking at their Curriculum Vitae. That is just a fancy word for resume.
If you are looking to hire a Forensic Document Examiner for your case, contact us now to schedule an appointment.