While we attorneys believe we know it all, there is a reason why we didn’t’ go to medical school. The great Albert Einstein, “if you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” Experts can play a crucial part to a client’s case. This blog post will discuss the importance of a biomechanical expert in an automobile accident.
THE SCIENCE OF THE EXPERT
Auto accidents are not always black and white, when there is a gray area, science may fill in the gaps. As trial attorneys, many lawyers are faced with the all too common qualms of getting ones argument across to a jury. Whether it be a complex medical malpractice case or a three car accident, the law and circumstances can seem so abstract to a lay person. Charts, visuals, and experts are specifically helpful in a personal injury lawsuit.
In Louisiana a witness who is qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may testify in the form of an opinion or otherwise if:
(1) The expert’s scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will help the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue;
(2) The testimony is based on sufficient facts or data;
(3) The testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods; and
(4) The expert has reliably applied the principles and methods to the facts of the case.
The judge plays a big influence on whether an expert witness and his/her practices are scientifically supported according to the Louisiana Code of Evidence and what is known in the legal community as, Daubert factors. See the landmark case Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael for an in-depth analysis of the Daubert factors.
As the gatekeeper, a judge through pre-trial practices, weeds out the good, the bad and the ugly. Meaning if your expert’s practices are unsupported or deemed inappropriate, the court or the opposing counsel may attack the expert’s credibility and render his/her testimony inadmissible.
THE BIOMECHANICAL ENGINEER
When it comes to automobile accidents biomechanical experts can be retained to assess whether a person’s injuries were actually caused by an automobile accident. In fact, many insurance companies hire biomechanical experts in low-impact accidents in hopes that they will be able to establish the force of the collision was insufficient to cause the alleged injuries. Biomechanical experts can also be used to bolster a personal injury case. In a car accident, a biomechanical engineer can prove fruitful when facts are missing, parties are in a “he said she said” match, or in the event there are no witnesses.
Where there is minimal property damage and a low impact car accident, insurance companies typically uses these factors to refute that the actual collision caused the complained of injuries. Biomechanical engineers use various factors when determining whether a collision was sufficient to cause the complained of injuries. Biomechanical engineers will perform various calculations and assessments such as: calculating delta-v (change in speed or velocity), assessing the characteristics of the vehicles involved in the collision, and measuring this information with the forces a human body can tolerate. The expert can facilitate such analysis by software data, hand calculations, visiting the crash site and/or inspecting the vehicles.
Biomechanical engineers are used on both sides of the legal spectrum. The most important priority for our clients is getting them the justice they deserve by providing them with the best of the best legal representation including the expert.
THE PITFALLS OF THE EXPERT
The selection of an expert is a delicate feat that requires an exceptional amount of research. A curriculum vitae (CV) is a detailed resume that provides an expert’s education, qualifications, publications, and cases in which he/she testified. The CV is a staple in selecting an excellent biomedical engineer. An experts’ qualifications and experience can add value to the case. You will also need to be armed with this information to challenge any expert opinion, if necessary. At the Cardone Law Firm, we have handled many cases in which biomechanical engineers were used to further our clients’ positions and we have also successfully challenged the opinions of biomechanical engineers when such opinions were unreliable and detrimental to our clients.
With an office located in New Orleans, the firm is able to serve clients statewide. Phone Cardone now for effective legal assistance at 504-522-3333 as well as a free in person consultation concerning your case.