In many cases in which there are disputed issues of fact surrounding a car accident, such as how the accident occurred or whether the accident caused the plaintiff’s harm, either party will hire an accident reconstructionist. A reconstructionist can determine, among other things, the force generated by the accident, but there is a limit to the testimony a reconstructionist is permitted to offer. In a recent case arising out of a rear-end collision involving a tractor-trailer, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee analyzed whether a reconstructionist is permitted to offer an opinion as to the cause of a plaintiff’s injuries. If you suffered injuries in a collision with a tractor-trailer in Tennessee, it is prudent to meet with a skillful Tennessee truck accident attorney regarding your potential claims.
Facts of the Case
It is alleged that the plaintiff was driving a van when he was rear-ended by a truck driven by the defendant driver, on behalf of the defendant trucking company. Prior to the trial, the defendants stated their intention to offer the expert testimony of an accident reconstructionist during the trial. In response, the plaintiff filed a motion to preclude the reconstructionist’s testimony, arguing that he was not qualified to opine on the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries because he was not a medical doctor. The defendant argued, however, that the reconstructionist was testifying as to the force the accident would produce and the kinds of injuries that typically would arise out of such force, rather than the medical cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. Upon review, the court denied the plaintiff’s motion.
Opinions on Causation
In evaluating whether an expert should be permitted to testify, the court assesses if the expert’s testimony is reliable, and if so, if it is relevant. The court’s inquiry as to an expert’s qualifications must be related to the facts of the case, the nature of the issue, and the expert’s specific area of expertise. The party seeking to admit testimony must prove that it is admissible by a preponderance of the evidence. In evaluating whether testimony is reliable, the court will assess whether the expert’s theory can be tested or has been subject to peer review, the known error rate of the theory, and whether the theory is widely accepted.