How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Document Examiner/Handwriting Expert?
If you are ever faced with an issue that requires hiring an expert, on big question may be, “How much does it cost for a handwriting expert?” The answer may seem complicated since every expert has a different fee structure and the work involved is case specific.
Some experts charge a flat fee for work performed and others charge a large retainer up front billed out at an hourly rate for work performed, much like an attorney would bill. The important thing to know is what is the estimate for your particular case based on a consultation. Experts with years of experience know the time, effort, and energy required on cases similar to yours therefore, after a brief phone call can give you an exact quote. Expert do have published fees; you will want to request their fee schedule.
Flat fee pricing is a fixed price fee structure. There is a flat fee for the examination of each document and/or signature in question. If your case has more than one questioned document or signature there are additional document fees ranging from $100 – $400 per document/signature. A separate fee for a written report or declaration would be charged after the examination and verbal consultation of your case. There will be separate fees for the examination of originals, travel if the case requires, and trial fees. The benefit of a flat fee pricing structure is you only pay for the services you need as you need them.
When a large retainer is required upfront, it is typically a non-refundable retainer. So, if the expert only examines the case and does not write you a report you pay the same fee. If the expert examines your case and writes you a report, but you do not need a report, you now have a report that does not help your case. Why might you not need a report, you ask. If the examiner comes to an opinion that is not in your favor. Yes, it does happen, you are not guaranteed an opinion of your liking. IF the expert spends more time on the case than what the retainer covers, you will receive an additional bill.
For a court qualified expert with experience expenses typically range from $300 – $1200 for a verbal opinion on one document/signature. A verbal opinion would be the expert calling you on the phone to tell you the opinion they have reached based on the material you submitted for examination. For an examination and written report, the fees can range from $600 – $2400.
Many experts will tell you if you are going to court, a verbal opinion won’t help you and you will need a written opinion. While this is mostly true, there are instances attorneys do not require a written opinion, it is not the norm, so you must consider the fee to write a report. What experts may not tell you is a written opinion alone cannot testify as an expert; the expert must appear for trial. Trial fees can range from $1200 – $3500. Some experts only charge $300/hour for trial testimony; note that if the expert drives 2 hours to the courthouse, sits waiting for 1 hour, the court goes on lunch break for an hour and a half, the expert takes the stand at 2pm and finishes at 4pm then drives home for two hours: total fee for day is $2,700! That is 9 hours at $300/hr.
So, the answer to the question, “How much does it cost for a handwriting expert?”
It all depends on the case and the amount of alleged fraud in the case.