Florida Court Discusses Admissibility of Expert Testimony in Slip and Fall Cases

Many people board cruises in Florida with the expectation that they will enjoy relaxing vacations. Unfortunately, some cruise vacations are ruined by slip and fall accidents. Generally, people injured on cruise ships can pursue damages from the company that owns and operates the vessels, but they typically must prove negligence to recover damages. In some cases, a plaintiff will retain an expert to offer testimony supporting the assertion that the defendant breached the standard of care. As discussed in a recent Florida ruling, though, the expert’s opinion must meet certain standards; otherwise, it will be deemed inadmissible. If you were injured in an accident on a cruise ship, you might be able to recover compensation, and it is prudent to meet with a Florida premises liability attorney to assess your possible claims.

The Plaintiff’s Injury and Claims

It is reported that the plaintiff was a passenger on a cruise ship owned by the defendant corporation. He was walking on one of the ship’s decks when he saw a chair in the middle of the walkway. He moved to walk around and slipped and fell, sustaining serious injuries. After his fall, he noticed liquid and food on the floor. He then filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging a count of maritime negligence. He hired an expert as well to provide an opinion as to why he fell on a slimy liquid substance. The defendant moved to preclude the plaintiff’s expert from testifying, arguing he did not employ any reliable methodologies.

Admissibility of Expert Evidence

Under the Federal Rules of Evidence, a party that seeks to admit expert testimony must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that it is admissible. A court will engage in a three-part test to determine whether an expert report may be admitted. First, it will determine whether the expert is qualified to testify on the matter he or she intends to address. Then, the court will examine whether the methodology the expert uses is sufficiently reliable. Finally, the court will determine if the testimony helps the trier of fact to understand the evidence or determine a disputed fact through the application of specialized or technical expertise or science.

In evaluating whether an expert’s testimony is reliable, the court must assess whether the reasoning he or she uses is scientifically valid and whether it can be properly applied to the facts in issue. As long as an expert meets the minimum qualifications, objections to the level of his or her expertise go to weight and credibility rather than admissibility. In the subject case, the court ultimately ruled that the plaintiff’s expert could testify regarding the standard of care, but could not assign fault to the defendant.

Speak to a Dedicated Florida Attorney

Most accidents that cause injuries are preventable, and people injured in slip and fall incidents are often able to recover damages. If you were injured in fall, the dedicated Florida premises liability attorneys of Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano, P.A. can advise you of your potential claims and aid you in pursuing the most favorable outcome possible under the facts of your case. You can contact us via our form online or at 800-283-7442 to set up a meeting.


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