When a person in injured in a car or truck wreck and incurs medical expenses, he or she must provide certain evidence of the reasonableness and necessity of these expenses in order for them to be considered by the jury at trial. Traditionally, this has been accomplished through a deposition of the plaintiff’s treating physician(s).
The Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code provides a possible shortcut for “proving up” medical expenses through an affidavit, rather than a (much more costly) expert witness deposition. However, the opposing party in a car accident case has the right to offer a counter-affidavit by a person who is qualified to testify in contravention of some or all of the matters contained in the plaintiff’s initial affidavit.
Facts of the Case
In the recent case of Liang v. Edwards, the plaintiff was a woman who was allegedly injured in an automobile accident in 2012. At the scene, the responding officer determined that the defendant was at fault. The plaintiff filed suit against the defendant in 2014, attaching certain billing record affidavits, pursuant to Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 18.001. In response, the defendant filed a counter-affidavit, contesting the reasonableness and necessity of the plaintiff’s past medical treatment.
At trial, the plaintiff’s billing record affidavits were admitted into evidence. The plaintiff testified that her medical treatment was necessary, but no expert testimony was presented as to the reasonableness or necessity of the plaintiff’s medical treatment. The jury found in the plaintiff’s favor and awarded her $23,299.50 in past medical care expenses; this was the total amount set forth in the affidavits submitted by the plaintiff.
The defendant filed a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, or, in the alternative, a new trial. As grounds, the defendant argued that the trial court had abused its discretion in admitting the plaintiff’s billing record affidavits because the defendant had filed a counter-affidavit. The trial court denied the defendant’s motion.
Decision of the Appellate Court
The Court of Appeals for the Fifth District of Texas reversed the trial court’s decision and remanded the case for a new trial. According to the appellate court, it was a reversible error for the trial judge to admit the affidavits at issue when the plaintiff did not provide expert testimony sufficient to support the jury’s full award of past medical expenses.
In so holding, the court found that the defendant’s counter-affidavit had been properly presented under § 18.001(f), thus forcing the plaintiff to present expert testimony of her reasonable and necessary past medical expenses. Thus, it was a reversible error for the trial court to admit the plaintiff’s billing record affidavits in lieu of requiring her to provide expert testimony at trial.
A Seasoned East Texas Auto Accident Attorney Here to Help
If you or a loved one needs help filing a claim for damages arising from a car crash caused by a negligent motorist or trucker, experienced east Texas auto accident attorney Earl Drott is here to assist you. For a free, confidential case evaluation, call us in Tyler at (903) 531-9300. We help injured people all around Smith County.
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