While expert testimony is not required in most personal injury cases, it is generally permissible. A party that seeks to introduce an expert must show both that the expert possesses the qualifications needed to offer an expert opinion and that the expert employed reliable methodologies in developing the opinion in question. If a party fails to establish these elements, its expert may be precluded from testifying on certain issues, as demonstrated in a ruling recently issued in a Florida matter arising out of a slip and fall accident on a cruise ship. If you were injured in a slip and fall accident, it is advisable to speak to a knowledgeable Florida premises liability attorney to evaluate what evidence you must produce to recover damages.
The Plaintiff’s Harm
It is reported that the plaintiff was a passenger on a cruise ship owned by the defendant when she slipped and fell on a wet substance on the lido deck. She suffered injuries in the fall and subsequently instituted a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging in part that the accident was the direct and proximate outcome of the defendant’s failure to reasonably maintain the floor in the lido deck area.
Allegedly, the plaintiff retained an expert to conduct an engineering analysis of the area where the fall occurred and to offer testimony that the defendant had actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous conditions that led to her fall and the defendant’s failure to comply with industry standards. The defendant moved to preclude the plaintiff’s expert from testifying, arguing that he was not qualified, his opinions were not helpful to the trier of fact, and they were not derived using reliable methods. The plaintiff opposed the motion.
Grounds for Admitting Expert Testimony
The court rejected the defendant’s assertion that the plaintiff’s expert was not qualified because he was not a naval architect, noting that an expert will not be deemed unqualified simply because their background does not exactly match the matter at hand. Further, the court found that contrary to the defendant’s assertion, the factual basis for the expert’s opinion was set forth in detail.
The court analyzed the methodology used to derive each opinion and ultimately found that some arose out of sufficiently reliable methodology while others did not. Thus, the court granted the defendant’s motion in part and denied in part, ruling that the plaintiff’s expert could testify regarding the results of his site inspection, the conditions of the area where the fall occurred, and his assertion that a larger floor mat could have prevented the harm, but could not testify regarding the dangers presented by the color of the tiles in the walkway or whether warning signs could have prevented the accident.
Discuss Your Injuries with a Dedicated Florida Attorney
Slip and fall accidents may seem straightforward, but in some instances, expert testimony may be helpful to demonstrate a property owner’s liability. If you suffered harm in a fall on someone else’s property, you might be owed damages, and you should speak to an attorney. The dedicated Florida premises liability lawyers of Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano, P.A. take pride in helping people injured by the negligence of others in the pursuit of damages, and if you hire us, we will work tirelessly on your behalf. You can reach us via our form online or by calling 800-283-7442 to set up a confidential meeting.