Augusta University faculty and staff are often asked to testify as witnesses, usually
regarding a patient's care. The answers to many of the frequently asked questions
are given below, but please call The Legal Affairs Office at 706-721-4018 should you
need any additional advice.
- Do I have to be a witness? If you are subpoenaed, yes. In Georgia, a court can subpoena
a witness with as little as 24 hours notice, so it is important that you do not ignore
a subpoena. We recommend faxing any subpoena you receive to us at 706-721-8014, and
we will phone you back with our advice.
- When I am testifying, does that time count as work time or leave time? Usually work
time. Paid court duty leave is given whenever you are testifying about your official
duties (such as treating a patient), and whenever you are compelled to testify by
a subpoena or court order, even if the case does not involve Augusta University. If
you are testifying as an expert witness, then you will not be given court duty leave.
- What is an expert witness? An expert witness testifies concerning their expert opinions,
rather than the facts of a case. This line can become quite blurred when the witness
is a physician or other professional, but as a general rule, if you are called to
testify about your observations of a patient, or the diagnosis, treatment or prognosis
of a patient, then you are a fact witness, not an expert witness. Expert witnesses
normally have no personal knowledge of the facts in a case. Instead, they are hired
to review whatever records and information is available, and to render an opinion
based on their expertise.
- Can I charge a fee for being a witness? Usually not. You may be entitled to a nominal
witness fee and reimbursement for out-of-town travel, but only expert witnesses can
charge a professional fee. An expert witness fee can be whatever the attorney hiring
you is willing to pay. At a minimum, the fee should be equivalent to your patient
charge for a similar length of time. Expert witnesses can consult and testify as an
outside activity, or as part of their official Augusta University duties. If the work
is done as part of your official duties, then you may review materials and testify
during your normal working hours, but the fee must be paid to Augusta University (or
PPG, if you bill through PPG). If you wish to be an expert as an outside activity,
you must obtain approval from your Chair and the time involved cannot be Augusta University
work time. The use of annual leave is often necessary. However, you may personally
keep any fees. Remember that these amounts are income to you, and that you must report
them on your tax returns.
- What is a deposition? A deposition is an out-of-court session where a witness testifies
under oath. Depositions are transcribed by a court reporter, and the attorneys and
parties involved are usually present. Your testimony at a deposition can be admitted
at a later trial. Depositions are designed to give the attorneys a chance to speak
on the record to the witnesses in a case before trial.
- Can I obtain advice on being a witness? Yes. The attorneys in our office will be happy
to speak with you, and we can also send you some brief articles on being a witness
which may be helpful. If Augusta University is not a party to the case where you are
being asked to testify, our attorneys would not normally need to be present during
your testimony. However, you may request that we come with you if you feel that is