Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a car accident case discussing the admissibility of certain evidence presented by the defense. Ultimately, the court concluded that the evidence was properly excluded and affirmed the $1.2 million verdict in favor of the plaintiff. The case is important for Maryland public transit accident victims because it illustrates the importance of expert testimony, as well as the importance of keeping potentially harmful evidence out of the jury’s consideration.
The plaintiff was involved in a car accident with a public transportation vehicle. Although the damage to each vehicle was minor, the plaintiff suffered lingering injuries as a result, including bulging discs.
The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the transportation authority, arguing that the negligence of the driver caused his injuries. In its defense, the transportation authority presented the testimony of an expert witness who planned on testifying regarding the “severity of the impact.” Evidently, the expert’s area of study involved the forces that are present in car accidents and how those forces relate to commonly experienced forces someone may experience in everyday life. The expert was not to present any medical evidence or opinion.
The plaintiff argued that the expert’s testimony was unnecessary and harmful because it did not provide the jurors with anything they could not figure out on their own, and it lent scientific authority to the defendant’s case. The court excluded the expert’s testimony, and the jury ultimately returned a verdict of $1.2 million in favor of the plaintiff. The defendant appealed, arguing that the lower court failed to conduct the proper analysis, and the case was reversed by the intermediate appellate court. The plaintiff then appealed to the state’s high court.
The Supreme Court’s Opinion
On appeal, the case was again reversed, this time in favor of the plaintiff. The court explained that the trial court acts as a gatekeeper of the evidence, and it is granted broad authority to determine which evidence is appropriate.
Here, the court explained that the trial court was properly exercising its discretion when it excluded the expert’s testimony. The court explained that while the lower court did not conduct the proper analysis, the end result the court reached was still sound. The court explained that, although the same expert had been permitted to testify in a number of other local trials, the decision of whether an expert’s testimony is relevant to a certain case should be determined on a case-by-case basis. Here, the lower court determined that the testimony was prejudicial and did not assist the jury in making its ultimate determination, so it was properly excluded.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Bus Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Maryland truck or bus accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated Maryland personal injury attorneys at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC have extensive experience representing victims and their families in a wide range of personal injury matters, including Maryland bus accident cases. To learn more, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation today.
More Blog Posts:
Roadside Accidents Involving Maryland Semi-Trucks, Maryland Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog, published April 18, 2018.
Virginia Court Dismisses Product Liability Case Against Truck Manufacturer, Maryland Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog, published April 4, 2018.