When many people think of expert testimony, they envision a professor-like witness discussing complex scientific or medical issues in a Maryland medical malpractice case. However, expert witnesses may be used in all types of personal injury cases, including Maryland truck accident cases.
Under Maryland Code, Rule 5-702, expert testimony may be admitted when the proponent of the evidence can show that “the testimony will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue.” In a recent federal appellate case, the court determined that a state trooper properly testified as an expert witness.
The Facts of the Case
According to the court’s recitation of the facts giving rise to the case, the plaintiff was a truck driver who was seriously burned after another truck driver inexplicably crossed over the center median and collided head-on with the plaintiff’s truck. The collision caused a major explosion, which resulted in the death of the at-fault truck driver as well as the plaintiff’s serious burns.
The plaintiff filed a personal injury claim against several parties, including the truck driver’s employer. In support of his claim, the plaintiff presented testimony from a state trooper who was driving behind the at-fault truck driver and saw the explosion. The trooper was also the first to respond to the scene of the accident. He took pictures of the scene, interviewed witnesses, and determined that the wet road conditions likely resulted in the truck hydroplaning. The trooper also determined that the truck driver was on the phone at the time of the accident.
The court allowed the trooper to testify as an expert witness over a defense objection that the testimony was not relevant. Specifically, the defendants claimed the testimony was not relevant because he could not find any defects or skid marks on the road and could not determine how much the at-fault truck driver’s truck weighed or how fast it was traveling at the time of the accident. The case ultimately resulted in a plaintiff’s verdict. The defendants appealed.
On appeal, the court affirmed the lower court’s decision to allow the trooper’s testimony. The court reasoned that the trooper considered numerous objective facts and found that his conclusions were not based on mere speculation. The court seemed inclined to admit the trooper’s testimony, in part, based on the fact that he not only was the first responder, but also witnesses the accident from afar. The court noted that the trooper admitted he did not inspect the truck’s brakes or attempt to determine the speed at which the truck was traveling. However, the court held that any oversights in the trooper’s investigation went to the weight his testimony was afforded by the jury, rather than its admissibility.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Truck Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Maryland truck accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation for the injuries you have sustained. At the Maryland personal injury law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, we have extensive experience handling all types of Maryland auto accident claims, including Maryland truck accident cases. To learn more about how we can help you pursue a claim for compensation based on the injuries you have sustained, call 410-654-3600 to schedule your free consultation today.
More Blog Posts:
Who Is at Fault in Maryland Train Accidents?, Maryland Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog, published February 6, 2019.
Can a Truck Driver’s Employer Be Held Liable in a Maryland Truck Accident?, Maryland Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog, published January 18, 2019.