In some Washington, D.C. personal injury cases, there are complex issues beyond the understanding of the common juror. Typically, these issues involve the nature and extent of the plaintiff’s injuries and how they are traceable to the defendant’s conduct. In such cases, courts allow parties to call expert witnesses – often doctors – whose expertise can help the jury understand and contextualize the evidence.
Typically, when one party plans on calling an expert witness, the other side will also call an expert witness to offer a contrary position. This situation is referred to as the “battle of the experts,” because the outcome of the case may very well come down to which expert is more believable in the eyes of the jury. Thus, the decision of which expert to call is a critical determination that can make or break an accident victim’s case.
In a recent personal injury opinion released by a federal appellate court, the court discussed what a plaintiff must establish to present an expert witness. According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was injured in an on-the-job accident involving a machine used to crush automobiles and other large pieces of machinery. The plaintiff filed a product liability claim against the manufacturer of the crusher.
In support of his claim, the plaintiff intended on calling a professor of mechanical engineering as an expert witness. The expert prepared a report in which he explained that the crusher should have been equipped with certain safety features, among them a ladder, toe boards, and a guardrail. The expert based his opinion American National Standards Institute (ANSI) recommending a ladder be available for getting in and out of the machine. The installation of a ladder would have required modification to the crusher’s front end; however, the expert did not draw up any sketches as an example. The expert conceded that he did not know how to perform the daily maintenance on the crusher.
The lower court determined that the expert’s report, which was only five pages long, failed to reliably apply principles and methods to evaluate the crusher. Without any expert testimony, the court concluded that the plaintiff could not establish his claim and dismissed the case. The plaintiff appealed.
On appeal, the court affirmed the lower court’s decision to prevent the plaintiff’s expert from testifying. The court explained that the expert failed to cover important points, and misinterpreted the ANSI standard cited in the expert’s report.
Consult with an Experienced Washington, D.C. Personal Injury Law Firm
If you have been injured as a result of a dangerous or defective product, the dedicated attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC can help you pursue a Washington, D.C. personal injury lawsuit. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, we have decades of experience representing injury victims and their families in all types of injury claims, including Washington, D.C. product liability cases, car accident claims, and slip-and-fall cases. To learn more, and to speak with a dedicated injury lawyer about your case, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation today. Because we work on a contingent-fee basis, we will not charge you for our services unless we can help you obtain compensation for your injuries.