Faculty Proceedings, Presentations, Speeches and Lectures

Practices in Forensic Neuropsychology: Perspectives of Neuropsychologists and Trial Attorneys

Event Name/Location

19th Annual Meeting of the National Academy of Neuropsychology

Event Location / Date(s)

San Antonio, TX / November 10-13, 1999

Presentation Date


Document Type

Conference Proceeding



Sixty-six members of the National Academy of Neuropsychology and 52 members of the American Trial Lawyers Association responded to a survey concerning current practices in forensic neuropsychology. Ninety percent of responding neuropsychologists and 94% of attorneys indicated that up to one half of their practices involve personal injury evaluations. The majority of neuropsychologists (88%) and attorneys (75%) reported that attorneys never observe neuropsychological testing. The typical (32%) neuropsychologist releases raw data in only one quarter or less of their forensic cases, but the modal attorney (44%) reported receiving raw data in almost all brain injury cases. While only 17% of neuropsychologists indicated that in the majority of their forensic cases, they informed attorneys of the tests to be administered, 41% of attorneys reported that they are provided this information in most cases. Almost half of responding neuropsychologists (47%) reported that they have been informed by attorneys of what findings would be most beneficial to their clients while 87% of attorneys deny that this ever takes place. 85% of neuropsychologists indicated that they are never required by attorneys to conduct neuropsychological testing themselves, but more than one third (37%) of attorneys stated that they almost always make this request. The most commonly used payment arrangement in personal injury cases is periodic billing. The modal neuropsychologist (26%) charges $126 to $150/hour for assessments and more than $200/hour for testimony. The majority of attorneys (62%) indicated that they retain neuropsychological experts in most of their brain injury cases. Attorneys reported that they typically locate experts by referral from other attorneys (58%) and health care professionals (56%). In addition to conducting assessments, preparing reports, and providing testimony, many attorneys ask their neuropsychological experts to help them prepare for cross-examination of the opposition's expert (77%) and to provide information to be used to prepare plaintiffs for their neuropsychological examinations (38%). Fewer neuropsychologists than attorneys acknowledged that they are asked to perform these latter two tasks (58% and 12%, respectively). Most attorneys (88%) consider board certification an important criterion in selecting an expert. Lawyers typically spend up to an hour preparing their clients for neuropsychological evaluations (37%) and commonly cover test content (21%), detection of malingering (19%), and brain injury symptoms (19%). Twenty-nine percent of attorneys reported that they educate their clients about the MMPI-2, a measure administered by 77% of neuropsychologists. Areas of agreement and divergence between the groups were identified and addressed. Ethical issues raised by identified practices were examined.

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