Construction Litigation: You Are the Expert

Sometimes I get to trade my high heels in for boots and a hard hat when visiting construction clients at the job site. Those are always fun days for me. When I was a "baby" lawyer, I got the privilege of visiting a construction client at a job site at the DFW airport. While the firm had its own hardhats which sported the firm logo, the client asked us to wear their hardhats so as not to alert everyone that the lawyers were on site. Construction litigation can involve all different types of disputes. Often construction litigation attorneys spend a great deal of time working with, deposing, and trying to either qualify or disqualify potential expert witnesses. Expert witnesses possess "scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge" that will assist the judge or jury to understand the evidence or to determine a fact. Tex. R. Evid. 702. How can one be an expert witness? A witness can qualify as an expert by "knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education." Tex. R. Evid. 702. Often construction clients themselves qualify as non-retained expert witnesses, which makes sense--they know how to build houses, pour concrete, install a roof, pour a foundation etc. They have this specialized knowledge from their experience and training. Sometimes a lawyer's client is overlooked as an expert because they don't hold a certificate or a certain degree. However, that doesn't preclude them from being an expert. For example, when it came to sewer repair work and cementitious products, there was no one more experienced with or having more specialized knowledge than a recent client of mine, even though he didn't hold a particular degree from a college or university.

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