While many people find riding motorcycles thrilling, collisions involving motorcycles often cause fatal injuries. If the estate of a person who died in a motorcycle crash seeks damages in a wrongful death lawsuit, it typically will have to rely on testimony from outside sources, like an accident reconstructionist, to demonstrate how the collision occurred. In a recent Florida ruling issued in a motorcycle crash case, a court discussed the admissibility of the opinion of an accident reconstruction expert. If you lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident, it is advisable to speak to a Florida motorcycle accident attorney to discuss what damages you may be owed.
The History of the Case
It is reported that the defendant’s vehicle collided with the decedent’s motorcycle, causing the decedent to suffer fatal harm. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging he negligently operated his vehicle, thereby causing the collision. After the completion of discovery, the defendant asked the court to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims via summary judgment. The plaintiff filed a response in opposition.
It is alleged that the defendant argued the evidence undisputedly showed that he was making a lawful turn at the time of the crash while the decedent was performing a wheelie. The plaintiff relied on the testimony of the lead traffic homicide detective in refuting the defendant’s assertions regarding how the accident occurred, thereby demonstrating a material factual dispute. The defendant argued, however, that the detective’s testimony was inadmissible.
Admissibility of Accident Reconstruction Expert Opinions
Under Florida law, testimony that may be inadmissible at trial may be admissible for purposes of defeating a motion for summary judgment. Florida courts have admitted the opinions of accident reconstruction experts to evaluate factors in traffic accidents. A person may be qualified to offer an expert opinion if he or she possesses scientific, technical, or specialized knowledge that will help the trier of fact understand the evidence; the testimony offered is the product of reliable methods and is based on sufficient data, and the expert has reliably applied the methods to the facts of the case.
The facts the expert relies on may come from personal observation or other sources, but if the facts would otherwise be inadmissible, they may only be disclosed to the jury if their probative value far outweighs their prejudicial impact. While an expert can offer an opinion that relies on inadmissible evidence, he or she cannot be used as a vehicle for presenting such evidence.
In the subject case, the court found that the detective’s opinion was based on his training and specialized experience, and therefore, his opinion could be considered at the summary judgment level unless a privilege applied. As the court found that no privilege operated to bar his opinion, it was properly considered. Thus, the court denied the defendant’s motion.
Speak to a Trusted Florida Attorney
Many people in Florida enjoy riding motorcycles, but when motorcyclists are struck by other drivers, they often suffer fatal injuries. If you lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident, it is advisable to speak to an attorney regarding your right to pursue compensation. The trusted motorcycle accident lawyers of Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano, P.A. are proficient at proving that people who negligently cause collisions should be held accountable, and if you hire us, we will advocate tirelessly on your behalf. You can reach us via our online form or by calling us at 800-283-7442 to schedule a meeting.