When Is Expert Testimony Inadmissible in a Personal Injury Case?
Many personal injury cases benefit from the use of expert testimony. An expert witness can help explain a complex technical issue to a jury. But an unqualified expert can also confuse or mislead a jury. For this reason, federal and state courts employ specific procedures to determine whether an expert is sufficiently qualified to offer expert testimony on a particular subject.
In the federal court system, this is known as the Daubert standard. Daubert not only requires the judge to determine if a proposed expert is “qualified” to testify, but also if the expert’s methodology is “sufficiently reliable” and their proposed testimony will actually assist the jury in understanding the evidence.
Atlanta Judge Rejects “Unqualified” Defense Witness Who Lied About Credentials
For example, a federal judge in Atlanta presiding over an ongoing personal injury case, Frushtick v. FeroExpress, Inc., recently granted the plaintiff’s motion to exclude a proposed defense expert witness under the Daubert standard. The case involved a commercial truck accident. The defendant allegedly drove his truck into the back of the plaintiff’s vehicle. The plaintiff subsequently sued the driver and his company for damages sustained in the accident, including medical expenses.
The defense wanted the jury to hear from an expert witness who, they claimed, would help prove the plaintiff’s post-accident medical bills were excessive. The plaintiff alleged those bills came to around $550,000. The defense expert said the “reasonable and customary value” for the medical care provided was closer to $158,000.
But the plaintiff argued–and the judge agreed–that the defense expert was unqualified to offer such testimony. The judge noted the witness was a “certified professional coder.” That meant she had experience assigning billing codes to various medical procedures. She also had prior experience overseeing billing for medical practices outside of Georgia. The judge took note of the witness’ lack in actually establishing the value of medical services provided in Georgia.
More to the point, the methodology used by the expert was one she developed while testifying in other personal injury lawsuits. The judge said that experience as a professional witness alone did not make one an expert. And to make matters worse, the judge pointed out the witness had “repeatedly misrepresented her credentials to this Court.” Indeed, other courts had “repeatedly precluded [the witness] from offering the kind of valuation testimony she wants to present here.” So the judge here had no difficulty preventing the witness from testifying on behalf of the defense.
Speak with a Clayton County Personal Injury Attorney Today
Not every personal injury lawsuit involves the use of expert witnesses. But when a defendant offers purported expert testimony in an attempt to avoid legal liability, the plaintiff has every right to challenge an unqualified witness. An experienced Atlanta truck accident lawyer can provide you with skilled representation in this and many other aspects of a personal injury case. Contact Shiver Hamilton Campbell today to schedule a free consultation with a member of our team.