Expert testimony is essential in many Maryland car accident cases. Under Maryland law, expert testimony may be admissible if the court rules that the expert testimony will help the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to decide a fact at issue in the case. Under Rule 5-702, a court must decide whether the witness is qualified as an expert based on the witness’s knowledge, experience, education, skill, or training, whether the expert testimony is appropriate, and whether there is a sufficient factual basis for the testimony.
Expert testimony is essential in cases where an issue is beyond the “common knowledge” of a layperson. One recent decision from a federal court of appeals shows a trial court’s improper exclusion of expert testimony doomed a plaintiff’s case, resulting in a judgment in favor of the defendants.
In that case, the plaintiff was hit by an SUV in a construction-affected area. The defendant, an architectural firm, was hired to redesign traffic in the area to safely control the traffic of vehicles and pedestrians in the area. A construction company installed a temporary concrete barrier along one part of the sidewalk. The pedestrian was crossing the street in the area and was hit head-on by a vehicle, rendering him a quadriplegic. The plaintiff filed suit against entities involved in the construction project, including the architectural firm.
The plaintiff retained an expert witness who opined on the standard of care owed to pedestrians and explained how the defendants’ negligence caused the plaintiff’s injuries. The plaintiff retained a traffic engineer as his only expert witness. The case eventually went to trial, and at the trial, the expert testified concerning the negligent design of traffic during the project, including that the architectural firm failed to give clear instructions to the contractor about how to implement the traffic design. The trial court conducted a separate hearing on the admissibility of the expert witness’s testimony. The court ruled that some of the testimony the expert provided during the trial was not contained in his report and disclosures before trial, and thus, excluded the witness. Because the plaintiff’s case rested on the expert witness’s testimony, the trial court entered judgment as a matter of law for the defendants.
However, the appeals court found that the plaintiff’s pretrial disclosures and the expert’s depositions put the defendant on notice of the expert’s opinions concerning negligent design. Therefore, the defendants were not prejudiced by the expert’s testimony, and the court erroneously excluded the expert. Accordingly, the case was remanded to the trial court.
Have You Been Injured in an Accident?
If you have been injured in a Maryland car accident, or any other type of preventable accident, another person may be responsible for your injuries. The attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen, Personal Injury Lawyers, help Maryland accident victims by assessing their claims and by helping them pursue compensation from the responsible parties. Our legal team will guide accident victims through every step of the legal process with skill and confidence. Call us at 800-654-1949 or contact us through our online form to set up a free consultation.