One of the most common ways that an Indiana car accident victim can prove their case against a defendant is through witness testimony. Frequently, witness testimony in an Indiana car accident case comes in the form of eyewitness testimony, meaning from someone who actually observed the accident. However, some car accident cases present more complex issues that may require an expert witness.
In Indiana, a qualified expert witness is permitted to testify if she possesses “scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge” that will help the jury understand the evidence or the issues involved in the case. Unlike other witnesses, expert witnesses are allowed to provide their opinion to the jury. Thus, expert witness testimony can be very powerful.
Expert witnesses are not necessary in every case. However, a recent state appellate decision illustrates that expert witnesses may be required in some situations.
The Facts of the Case
According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was involved in a chain reaction accident that began between two other vehicles. The plaintiff was injured in the accident and was taken to the hospital. However, the exact nature of the plaintiff’s injuries was unclear, as the hospital medical records were not available. However, the plaintiff had a history of preexisting medical conditions involving his “feet, head, neck, knees, shoulder, and spine.”
The plaintiff filed a personal injury case against the other drivers involved in the crash. In his complaint, the plaintiff sought damages for injuries to his neck, head, back, right foot, right ankle, right hip, shoulders, and knees. The plaintiff planned on calling his treating physicians, but did not have any expert witnesses.
The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that the plaintiff’s case should be dismissed because the plaintiff failed to establish that his injuries were the result of the car accident, and not due to some other preexisting condition. The plaintiff suggested that his treating physicians would be able to establish causation; however, causation was not mentioned in any of the experts’ affidavits.
The court agreed with the defendants, dismissing the plaintiff’s case. The court explained that to survive the defendants’ summary judgment motion the plaintiff needed to provide affirmative evidence regarding each element of his claim. Here, the court held that the evidence presented by the plaintiff did not establish the cause of his injuries. The court reasoned that, while the plaintiff suggested his treating physicians may have been able to provide evidence regarding causation, the plaintiff cannot “rest upon the mere allegations” in his pleadings. Because the plaintiff did not present any affirmative evidence suggesting the most recent accident caused his injuries, the case against the defendants was dismissed.
Have You Been Injured in an Indiana Car Accident?
If you or someone you care about has recently been injured in an Indiana car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. At the Indiana personal injury law firm of Parr Richey Frandsen Patterson Kruse, we have been representing Indiana accident victims for the past 120 years, and know what it takes to succeed on our clients’ behalves. To learn more, and to schedule your free consultation with a dedicated Indiana injury attorney, call 888-532-7766 today.
Assumption of the Risk in Indiana Personal Injury Cases, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, February 12, 2019
Indiana’s Attractive Nuisance Doctrine, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, February 19, 2019