Legal Blog

Expert Testimony for the Defense

Attorney David I. Fuchs

Author

Attorney David I. Fuchs

Date

Sep. 30, 2014

Category

News

In a recent ruling, the Florida Fourth District judges clarified when a plaintiff’s medical treatment should be evaluated at trial in a defense expert’s testimony, and when this testimony should be excluded, Florida car accident attorneys report. A professional medical testimony can be compelling, especially when presented in light of a recent examination, but these testimonies can be tailored to fit the defendant’s needs when necessary, and an unsuspecting jury can be swayed from the victim’s pain. 

In the case in question, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit after he suffered injuries when the utility truck in which he was riding was rear-ended by another driver in 2008. The victim visited a chiropractor, and orthopedic surgeon, and later, a neurosurgeon, for treatment to correct the injuries he sustained to his neck and back. He underwent a lumbar procedure, and then a cervical procedure as well, which was unsuccessful in ending his pain. Following these procedures, he visited the neurosurgeon, who also performed neck and back surgery. 

The plaintiff failed to disclose his 2001 injuries or the accident that caused them to his orthopedic surgeon or the neurosurgeon, and each doctor learned of it independently when questioning the man about his medical history. He also indicated that he had not been suffering pain from his injuries, and that he was not receiving treatment for any injuries when he was injured in the rear-end accident in 2008. 

The evidence taken from the medical examinations and surgery records indicated that the plaintiff had suffered injuries in two accidents in 2001, and that he had lingering back and neck pain ever since those events. His records detailed doctors’ visits between 2001 and 2008, at which he sought treatment for those injuries. Testimony collected from his coworkers uncovered that the man took medication and routinely complained of back pain. 

At the trial, the jury determined that there was no negligence on the part of the defendant that caused the injury or damage to the plaintiff. The plaintiff appealed, arguing that the court admitted testimony from a doctor who performed the compulsory medical examination, or CME. In his testimony for the defense, this doctor stated that the plaintiff’s surgeries were not necessary. The plaintiff, on appeal, stated that a motion in limine should have excluded the CME doctor’s evidence from the trial. 

After a round of appeals, the case ended up before the Fourth District court. Using the precedent set in a 1994 case, Dungan v. Ford, in which the CME doctor’s testimony was excluded, the plaintiff objected to the expert testimony provided in his case. In this case, the issue was whether the surgeries were part of a treatment plan for injuries sustained in 2008, or for the lingering pain from the 2001 accidents. If the trial court was trying to bar this causation evidence needed to determine this, the order was in error, the Fourth District ruled. 

Medical testimony can make or break a case, depending on what injuries a plaintiff has sustained, and how the examination results are presented, Florida car accident attorneys say. To ensure that you have the best representation if you have been injured in a car accident, and are experiencing ongoing medical complications as a result, contact David I Fuchs, a personal injury attorney in Florida, for a consultation today.