The Importance of Expert Testimony in Florida Cases Involving a Professional Duty of Care

witness testimonyIn Florida personal injury cases, the jury must make the ultimate decision as to whether the defendant’s actions caused the plaintiff’s injuries, and what, if any, damages are appropriate. In many cases, the judge will explain the legal issues involved in the case to the jury, and the jurors will then be able to use their common sense to resolve the issues. However, in some cases involving issues that are beyond the understanding of most jurors, the plaintiff may be required to present the testimony of an expert witness.

An expert witness is someone who is an expert in the specific issue raised by the case. In Florida medical malpractice cases, doctors are often used as expert witnesses. In Florida car accident cases, engineers may be called as expert witnesses. There is no hard-and-fast rule stating when an expert is necessary, but Florida law allows for an expert to be called whenever “scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge would assist the trier of fact.” While some cases, such as Florida medical malpractice cases, require expert testimony, the decision whether to call an expert witness is normally left to the discretion of the parties.

In a recent appellate decision, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s case because she failed to present expert testimony in support of her position.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff took a yoga class that was taught by the defendant yoga instructor. During the class, the plaintiff claimed that the defendant instructor adjusted her poses several times, each time causing her pain. After the class had concluded, the plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the instructor and the studio, arguing that she suffered serious back injuries as a result of the instructor’s adjustments.

The defendants presented the testimony of two experts during a motion for summary judgment. The experts collectively explained that the plaintiff’s injuries were caused by “chronic degenerative disc disease,” and not the result of a yoga injury. Additionally, an expert testified that the adjustments made by the defendant were within the standard of care for a yoga instructor. The plaintiff presented no expert testimony in response, but argued that the defendants’ experts were “inherently unreliable.”

The court rejected the plaintiff’s argument and granted the defendants’ motion. The court explained that in a negligence case, the plaintiff must establish that the defendant breached a duty of care that was owed to the plaintiff. Here, the court explained, jurors would not be familiar with the duties of a yoga instructor, and thus, could be assisted by the testimony of an expert. The court explained that when the defendants presented expert testimony in support of their position, it was incumbent on the plaintiff to do the same. Because she did not, the court held that she could not establish the defendants breached a duty of care that she was owed.

Have You Been Injured in a Florida Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured during a yoga class, or while participating in another sporting activity, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Florida personal injury lawsuit. The dedicated South Florida personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Friedman Rodman & Frank have extensive experience representing injury victims in a wide range of accident cases, including premises liability cases. To learn more, call 877-448-8585 to schedule a free consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

Claims Against Government Employees and Agencies Must Comply with the Requirements of the FTCA, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published August 31, 2018.

Jury Holds Railroad Company Liable for Fatal Train Accident, Court Upholds $10.4 Million Verdict, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published August 8, 2018.

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