Limits on Expert Examination at Issue in Unique South Florida Auto Crash Case: Goicochea v. Lopez

In Goicochea v. Lopez, a South Florida woman sued several motorists for injuries she allegedly incurred during three separate motor vehicle collisions that took place between July 2007 and January 2009. According to the woman, the combined lawsuit was necessary because her injuries were so related that it was impossible to reliably apportion damages from each crash. A defendant driver from the second accident asked the purportedly injured woman to submit to examination by a particular doctor of his choosing, pursuant to Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.360(a)(1)(A). Later, defendants from the first automobile accident requested that the plaintiff submit to an exam performed by a different physician under the same rule. The woman instead sought a protective order that would limit the number of expert examinations she was required to submit to. After the trial court granted her motion, one of the defendants asked Florida’s Third District Court of Appeals to overturn the lower court’s decision.

According to the defendant, the trial court’s decision to limit expert testimony was erroneous and would subject him to harm that could not be repaired on appeal. The appellate court agreed and stated that, unlike the case law relied upon by the trial court, the defendant did not ask the plaintiff to submit to multiple expert examinations related to the same cause of action. Instead, three unrelated defendants with adverse interests were being sued at the same time. The court said the injured woman’s allegations forced each defendant to demonstrate his or her own purported negligence was not the source of the plaintiff’s harm. Florida’s Third District stated the trial court’s limit departed from the “essential requirements” of the law and caused each of the defendants irreparable harm. Because of this, the appeals court overturned the trial court’s ruling that the plaintiff was required to submit to examination by only one expert physician.

In the State of Florida, an individual who was hurt in a motor vehicle or other personal injury accident must prove the person or entity that caused his or her injury had a legal duty to exercise reasonable care, failed to do so, and their harm resulted from that failure. For example, a driver has a duty to obey traffic signs and laws. If a motorist speeds excessively and hurts a pedestrian, bicyclist, or another driver in a traffic wreck, he or she likely committed negligence. Depending upon the facts of each situation, proving negligence can be difficult, and establishing the proper evidence at trial is absolutely vital. A skilled South Florida personal injury attorney can help.

If you were injured in a Miami auto accident, do not hesitate to contact the seasoned lawyers at Friedman, Rodman & Frank, P.A. through our website today. To schedule a time to discuss your case in greater detail, you may also give our caring attorneys a call at (305) 448-8585.

Additional Resources:

Goicochea v. Lopez, Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 3rd Dist. 2014

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