The facts and data relied on by an expert witness can often be the difference between a strong opinion and one the courts reject. In commercial litigation, a reasonable level of certainty relating to the cause of damages and the damages amount is required for damages to be awarded. Therefore, a financial expert preparing a calculation of damages should gather facts and data sufficient to establish a basis for the opinions offered. The evidentiary guidelines for testifying experts are outlined by the Federal Rules of Evidence (FRE). Rule 702 of the FRE identifies several key criteria for determining whether the testimony offered by a qualified expert witness is acceptable, including (1) the testimony is based upon sufficient facts or data, (2) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods, and (3) the witness has applied the principles and methods reliably to the facts of the case.
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