Florida personal injury cases are routinely decided by a jury, unless both parties agree that a judge should hear the case. When a jury is empaneled, it should be representative of the community where the case will be heard. Almost always, juries consist of laypeople, meaning that the individual jurors have not been schooled on the law or how it applies to a given case. The judge’s job is to assist the jury by providing instructions on what the ultimate question in the case is and what the jurors should consider in making their determination.
In some Florida personal injury cases, confusing scientific or medical issues arise. In such cases, an expert witness may be required to explain to the jury certain principles or concepts. An expert witness is usually a professional in the field at issue who has specialized knowledge through experience or education. In many Florida personal injury cases, each side presents their own expert witness in hopes of persuading the jury. There are complex rules regarding the admissibility of expert testimony; however, once testimony is admitted, it is up to the fact-finder to determine how convincing the testimony is. A recent case illustrates the difference between admitting evidence and assigning the evidence weight.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was driving along the highway, about to pass a Department of Transportation vehicle that was pulled off to the side of the road. As she passed, she heard a loud noise. The next thing she knew, her car was upside down and sliding along the roadway. The plaintiff sustained serious injuries as a result of the accident, and she filed a personal injury lawsuit against the Department of Transportation, as the employer of the driver who was alleged to have pulled out in front of her.
The Department employee testified that the plaintiff was the one who ran into the rear of his vehicle and that the plaintiff was the one who was at fault. In support of her claim, the plaintiff called an accident reconstructionist as an expert witness. The defense objected to the witness’ testimony, arguing that it was based only on opinion. However, the court allowed the expert to testify.
The expert testified that it was his opinion that the accident was caused when the Department employee pulled out in front of the plaintiff. At the conclusion of the evidence, the judge found in favor of the defense.
The plaintiff appealed, arguing that the judge was improper to exclude her witness’ testimony; however, the appellate court did not agree with her argument. The appellate court explained that the judge did allow the expert to testify yet failed to credit the testimony above that of the Department employee. The court went on to say that nothing required the judge to believe the plaintiff’s witness above all other witnesses, and the issue was one of weight, rather than admissibility. Therefore, the judge affirmed the defense verdict.
Have You Been Injured in a South Florida Car Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been involved in a South Florida car accident and sustained major injuries as a result, you may be entitled to monetary compensation from the at-fault party. The skilled South Florida personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Friedman, Rodman & Frank have extensive experience handling all kinds of personal injury cases, including those involving complex scientific and medical issues. We have a broad network of expert witnesses on whom we can rely to help explain to the jury why our clients are deserving of compensation. Call 877-448-8585 to schedule a free consultation with an experienced South Florida personal injury attorney today.
More Blog Posts:
Court Limits Truck Owner’s Liability, Finding that He Loaned Truck to At-Fault Driver, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published July 6, 2017.
Who Is Responsible in Florida When Someone Causes an Accident Using a Borrowed or Stolen Car?, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published August 10, 2017.