Federal District Court in Texas Disallows Injured Parties’ Vocational Expert Reports on Grounds of Untimeliness

When someone is hurt due to the negligence of a trucker or trucking company, the burden is on the injured person to prove each element of his or her Texas truck accident case by a preponderance of the evidence. This includes proof of not only the defendant’s duty to the plaintiff and the breach thereof but also the plaintiff’s damages, such as medical expenses (past and future), pain and suffering, and lost income.

Usually, proving medical expenses and lost future earnings requires the testimony of an expert witness. Without this important testimony, the plaintiff’s case can be substantially undervalued.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiffs were individuals who alleged that they were injured in an accident caused by the negligence of the defendants, a transportation company and others. They filed suit, seeking compensation for, among other things, lost income and loss of future earning capacity. After their case had been pending for some time in federal district court, the plaintiffs proffered certain “expert reports” in support of their claim for damages against the defendants.

The defendants filed a motion to strike and exclude the reports and the opinion testimony of the plaintiff’s designated vocational experts, alleging that the experts’ initial reports contained only medical and vocational background for the plaintiffs rather than a true expert opinion, and their supplemental reports were not timely filed.

The District Court’s Decision

The federal district court hearing the case granted the defendants’ motion to strike and exclude the plaintiffs’ vocational expert evidence. The court first noted that Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26 requires that an expert report contain not only a complete statement of all of the opinions that the witness will express at trial but also the basis and reasons for those opinions. The facts or data considered by the witness should also be included, along with any exhibits that will be used at trial, a list of the witness’ qualifications, information about any previous cases in which the expert has testified, and a statement regarding the amount of compensation paid to the expert for his or her services.

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37, an expert’s testimony may be limited or excluded as a sanction for a party’s failure to supply the requisite report from the expert. An exception exists when the failure to do so is substantially justified or harmless. Since the court found that the plaintiff’s late production of their expert vocational reports was neither harmless nor substantially justified, the reports were to be excluded at trial.

Hire an Experienced East Texas Accident Lawyer

Proving negligence and damages in a car or truck accident case is not always easy. Trucking companies and their insurance companies begin mounting their defense from the moment they learn of the accident, and their goal is always to pay out the smallest possible amount of money on a given claim, even if it means taking advantage of a technicality or a procedural issue of timeliness. East Texas truck accident lawyer Earl Drott has been helping those injured by others’ negligence for three decades. Call 903-531-9300 to find out more about how we can be of assistance in your personal injury or wrongful death case.

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