Trial Court Did Not Commit Reversible Error in Allowing Expert’s Testimony Regarding Speed of Car During Impact, According to Texas Court of Appeals

In an East Texas personal injury case arising from a motor vehicle accident, there are sometimes multiple witnesses who testify at trial regarding how the accident happened and the effects that it had on the plaintiff’s physical health and well-being.

These witnesses may include not only the plaintiff and the defendant but also sometimes experts such as medical providers and even accident reconstructionists. When there is a conflict in this evidence, it is up to the jury to determine the relative credibility of the witnesses. (However, one or both parties may contest the trial court’s admissibility of certain testimony on appeal.)

Facts of the Case

In a recently decided appellate court case, the plaintiff was a woman who filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant driver, seeking to recover monetary compensation for injuries allegedly sustained in a 2012 automobile accident. At the time of the crash, the plaintiff was stopped in a line of cars on an exit ramp of the interstate; the defendant struck the plaintiff’s car from the rear, putting a dent in the trunk and crackling the paint on the bumper.

The case was tried to a jury and resulted in a verdict in the plaintiff’s favor as to the defendant’s negligence. However, the jury opted to award the plaintiff “only a fraction” of the damages that she sought in the litigation. The plaintiff appealed, contending that the trial court committed a reversible error in allowing expert testimony concerning the speed of the defendant’s vehicle at the time of the impact between the two automobiles.

Decision of the Appellate Court

The Court of Appeals of Texas affirmed the trial court order entering judgment upon the jury’s verdict. First, the court observed that there had been a pretrial hearing to determine whether the expert’s opinions were relevant and reliable and that the plaintiff did not challenge the trial court’s pretrial ruling as to the admissibility of the testimony. The court went on to opine that, even if the trial court had abused its discretion in allowing the witness to testify as to the defendant’s speed at the time of the accident, a reversal would only be warranted if the error “probably caused the rendition of an improper judgment.”

In reviewing the entire record, the court found that the plaintiff was not harmed by the testimony in question because it was cumulative of other evidence showing a low-impact collision and was not material to an essential fact in dispute.

They also noted in passing that the plaintiff had given conflicting statements regarding previous injuries and medical treatment to her shoulder. According to the evidence at trial, the plaintiff had undergone rotator cuff surgery in 2003 and had suffered a second tear in a fall in 2009. The defendant’s expert opined that the shoulder injuries that the plaintiff complained were due to the crash were not consistent with the mechanics of the accident.

Schedule an Appointment with an East Texas Car Accident Attorney

If you have been hurt in a car accident, you should talk to an attorney about holding the responsible driver liable for your injuries. Results-oriented east Texas car accident attorney Earl Drott has 34 years of experience helping individuals in Tyler and Smith County seek fair compensation following car wrecks, truck crashes, and motorcycle collisions. Call us at 903-531-9300 to schedule a free case review.

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