Louisiana Plaintiff’s Use of Expert Opinion Evidence Was Enough to Avoid Dismissal of Her Auto Accident Case

cardonelawfirmautoaccidenttree-300x203In a Louisiana car accident case, you may have many different types of evidence that you use to achieve success, with each type playing an important role. For many cases, expert witness evidence can be one of those types. For one woman whose case was recently decided by the Louisiana Court of Appeal, her expert evidence was vital, since that evidence alone was enough to raise a triable issue of fact and allow her to avoid summary judgment.

The woman, Cheryl, was a passenger in a vehicle traveling through a small town in northeastern Louisiana when a springtime thunderstorm wreaked considerable havoc. A fallen tree had led the driver to take an alternate route through the town. As the driver was navigating her detour, a large limb from an oak tree broke off and crashed onto the women’s car. The limb was big enough that it crushed the roof, in addition to hitting Cheryl in the head. The impact was so severe that the accident left Cheryl a quadriplegic.

The oak in question straddled a property boundary line, with part of the tree on the front yard of a private residence and part on a right-of-way owned by the city. This is just one example of how the facts of your accident case may lead to the need to sue multiple (and sometimes very different) defendants. Here, the plaintiff’s case was against both the couple who owned the residence and the city.

Both the homeowners and the city made motions asking for summary judgment, which would have ended the plaintiff’s case before reaching trial. The defendants argued that none of them knew or had reason to know why they should have known that the tree was defective. This is a common and sometimes effective argument for defendants, since the law requires proof that a defendant either knew or should have known about the danger before liability can exist. All of the defendants argued that they did not know and could not have known about the tree’s problems, since it looked reasonably healthy with green leaves. The trial judge sided with the defendants.

The appeals court, though, reversed and revived the plaintiff’s case. While the defendants had testified that the tree had green leaves and looked fairly normal, the plaintiff had a tree expert who testified that the oak in question had decay and a condition known as “heart rot.” What was more, proof that the tree was dying and had been dying for years was readily visible. The oak’s visible knots at the trunk as well as its obviously thinning crown were clear signs that it was not healthy, according to the expert. The plaintiff’s tree expert’s opinion testimony was, by itself, enough to warrant a denial of the defendants’ summary judgment requests. The expert’s opinion evidence raised a legitimate issue regarding whether the defendants knew or should’ve known about the tree’s troubles, whether the accident could have been prevented with the exercise of due care by the defendants, and whether the homeowners and the city failed to employ that level of reasonable care.

There are several pieces that go into a successful injury case. One of these is amassing all of the evidence you need, and that is but one of many areas where an experienced Louisiana attorney can help. For answers to your questions about your injury case, talk to the knowledgeable Louisiana car accident attorneys at the Cardone Law Firm. Our team has been helping people injured in accidents for many years in fighting for what’s due them.

For your confidential consultation, contact us online or phone Cardone at 1-888-89-CARDONE (1-888-892-2736).

More Blog Posts:

Louisiana Stepmom and Stepson Allowed to Pursue Injury Case Because Insurer’s Evidence Didn’t Prove a Valid Cancellation, Louisiana Injury Lawyers Blog, July 25, 2017

Court of Appeal Upholds Bad-Faith Damages Award Against Insurer in Central Louisiana Auto Accident, Louisiana Injury Lawyers Blog, July 12, 2017