Florida Court Explains Admissibility of Expert Opinions

Motorcycle accidents typically cause catastrophic injuries, in part due to the lack of external protection. While many motorcyclists wear helmets, if a helmet is defective, it may not provide any safety benefits. Generally, a party must prove that a helmet is unreasonably dangerous due to a design defect via expert testimony. Expert opinions must be formed via sufficiently reliable methods, though, otherwise, they may be excluded. In a case arising out of a motorcycle accident, a Florida court recently discussed the factors weighed in determining if expert testimony should be admitted. If you were injured in a motorcycle crash, it is advisable to meet with an assertive Florida motorcycle accident lawyer to evaluate what claims you may be able to pursue.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

Allegedly, the plaintiff sustained critical injuries in a motorcycle accident. The plaintiff was wearing a helmet manufactured by the defendant at the time of the crash and alleged that the straps failed and became loose after the initial impact. Thus, she filed a product liability lawsuit against the defendant in the federal district court, in which she asserted that the helmet contained a design or manufacturing defect that caused it to fly off of her head without warning. Prior to trial, the parties filed cross-motions to exclude each other’s expert reports.

Rules Governing Expert Testimony

The Federal Rules of Evidence govern the admissibility of expert testimony. Specifically, Rule 702 states that the proponent of such testimony must establish that: the expert has the qualifications needed to competently testify regarding the matters he or she intends to address; the methodology through which the expert arrived at his or her conclusion is sufficiently reliable as mandated by Daubert; and the testimony offered helps the fact finder to understand or determine a fact in issue, through the application of technical, scientific, or specialized expertise.

An expert may be qualified to testify about specific issues due to experience, education, or training in the field. In assessing whether an expert employed reliable methods, a court will consider whether the expert’s theory can be or has been tested, whether it has been published or subjected to peer review, the actual or possible rate of error of the specific technique, and whether the technique is generally accepted in the scientific community. The court must consider these factors, which arise from the Daubert case, along with other case-specific elements to determine if a method is reliable. In the subject case, the court ultimately found that the plaintiff’s expert relied on unreliable methods in forming his opinion and granted the defendant’s motion. It found that the defendant’s expert, however, employed reliable methods and, as such, permitted him to testify.

Speak with a Trusted Florida Motorcycle Accident Attorney

While most motorcycle accidents arise out of negligence, other factors like defective products can contribute to the harm ultimately suffered. If you were hurt in a collision, you should speak with an attorney to determine what damages you may be able to recover. The trusted Florida motorcycle accident lawyers of Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano, P.A. are dedicated to helping people harmed by reckless acts in the pursuit of compensation, and if you hire us, we will work tirelessly on your behalf. You can contact us through our online form or at 800-283-7442 to schedule a meeting.

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