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Can I Get a Witness? A Therapist’s Guide to Becoming an Expert Witness

presented by Michael Gerg

Accreditation Check:

Being an expert witness is within the scope of practice for an occupational or physical therapy practitioner. However, great consideration by the practitioner is needed prior to agreeing to provide such services. The purpose of this session is to inform the attendee of how to evaluate their own competency to be an expert witness; to be aware of the variety of services that may be requested of an expert witness, from document review to testimony; and how to provide an opinion that is logical, objective, evidence-based, and adheres to each profession’s Code of Ethics.

Meet Your Instructor

  • Michael Gerg, DOT, OTR/L, CHT, CEES, CWCE

    Dr. Michael J. Gerg, DOT, OTR/L, CHT, CEES, CWCE is the Program Director of the Occupational Therapy Assistant program at Harcum College. He is a Board Certified Hand Therapist, Work Capacity Evaluator, and Ergonomics Evaluation Specialist and a graduate of the Pennsylvania State University School of Liberal Arts and the Temple University School of Allied Health Professions. In the past, Dr. Gerg has worked for Magee Rehabilitation, Temple University Hospital, and Valley Health in Winchester, Virginia where he helped to build a successful industrial wellness and ergonomic consulting practice. After beginning his career in mental health, he has gained extensive clinical practice experience in a variety of adult physical disability settings including outpatient hand therapy, acute care, acute rehabilitation, long-term care, and outpatient rehabilitation. He has had full-time academic appointments at Harcum College and Temple University and has been an adjunct faculty member at Shenandoah University in the Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Athletic Training programs. His special interests include hand therapy, ergonomic worksite evaluation, legal expert consulting, industrial wellness, injury prevention research and training (primarily back injuries in healthcare workers), and functional capacity evaluation (FCE). His research interests include ergonomics, community access for persons with disabilities, and industrial wellness. He has published research on the ergonomics of text messaging as well as a book chapter on carpal tunnel syndrome. Dr. Gerg continues to be involved in clinical hand therapy practice in the Philadelphia metropolitan region and successfully owns and operates a small ergonomic consulting and legal expert practice, WorkWell Associates, LLC. Some of his previous and current clients include the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank, Carpenter Technology Corporation, Trex, Inc., Toray Plastics, Kraft Foods, and the Philadelphia Department of Occupational Safety and Health (Philaposh). He has worked extensively with injured and disabled workers of various levels of ability to assist them in pursuing a means of earning a living that is also meaningful and fulfilling. He previously served as the Chairperson of the Work and Industry Special Interest Section of the American Occupational Therapy Association. When not working, he finds biking, hiking, traveling, and freelance travel writing fulfilling.

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Chapters & Learning Objectives

Download Learning Objectives
  1. Defining the Expert Witness: You May Be an Expert, but Are You an Expert Expert?

    1. Defining the Expert Witness: You May Be an Expert, but Are You an Expert Expert?

    This chapter describes what it means to be an expert witness in the view of the law and how expert witnesses are different from other types of witnesses called upon by the courts. Attendees will learn about how the admissibility of expert testimony is determined and how different standards are applied to test this from the State and Federal perspective. The types of services that an expert witness may be asked to provide are also discussed.

  2. Becoming an Expert Witness: Evaluating Your Competency and Getting Started

    2. Becoming an Expert Witness: Evaluating Your Competency and Getting Started

    This chapter discusses both AOTA’s and APTA’s stance on performing expert witness work and what tools they recommend or provide to evaluate a practitioner’s competency to be an expert witness. Once competency is determined, the material that will be needed to begin this line of work is discussed. Expert witness work is tied directly to the AOTA and APTA codes of ethics.

  3. The Legal System: How Does It All Work?

    3. The Legal System: How Does It All Work?

    This chapter explores the different professions that work in law and how the expert can expect to interact with them. Included in this section is a discussion of how a case is constructed and carried out and how the court determines what is awarded if the plaintiff is successful in winning the case.

  4. The Provision of Expert Services: How Will You Be Asked to Demonstrate Your Expertise?

    4. The Provision of Expert Services: How Will You Be Asked to Demonstrate Your Expertise?

    This chapter informs the attendee of the various types of services an expert witness could be called on to provide. Extra emphasis is placed on how to write an expert opinion, give a good deposition, and provide testimony in court.

  5. Pitfalls to Avoid as an Expert Witness

    5. Pitfalls to Avoid as an Expert Witness

    This chapter explores what an expert practitioner can expect when establishing themselves as an expert witness and what pitfalls to avoid. Also, the opposing legal team will attempt to discredit the expert witness in various ways. The expert witness will be made aware of some commonly used tactics the lawyer will utilize to discredit them.