Court Determines Jury Was Permitted to Find Witness Testimony Speculative When Failing to Award Plaintiff Future Medical Expenses

Earlier last month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case illustrating the importance of expert witness selection and preparation in Maryland car accident cases involving disputed medical evidence. The court ultimately concluded that the jury was acting within its purview when it found that the testimony of the plaintiff’s expert witness was speculative, and thus it declined to find that the plaintiff suffered a permanent injury as a result of the accident.

X-RayThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was involved in a car accident that was caused by another driver. The record is not clear if the other driver had no insurance, or if they had insufficient insurance to cover the plaintiff’s injuries, but regardless, the plaintiff ended up filing a claim with her own insurance company under the underinsured/uninsured motorist provision.

The plaintiff presented one expert witness, a neurosurgeon who had operated on the plaintiff. The neurosurgeon testified that the plaintiff suffered from degenerative disc disease, that it was possible the plaintiff would require surgery, and that the accident likely increased that chance by 15-20%. However, the neurosurgeon also testified that he had no idea how long the plaintiff’s degenerative disc disease had been developing.

The defendant insurance company presented three expert witnesses to counter the plaintiff’s expert. However, due to reasons irrelevant to this appeal, the experts’ testimony was precluded from being considered by the jury. Thus, the only expert testimony before the jury was that of the plaintiff’s neurosurgeon.

The jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff but only awarded her $7,000 in lost wages. The jury determined that the plaintiff did not suffer a permanent injury from the accident. The plaintiff asked the court to enter judgment notwithstanding the jury’s verdict based on the uncontradicted expert testimony, and the court did so. The insurance company appealed.

On appeal, the case was reversed in favor of the insurance company. The court explained that the jury was free to assess the weight of the plaintiff’s expert’s testimony and, if the jury found the testimony lacking, give the testimony little to no weight. Here, the court explained, the plaintiff’s expert did not testify with the level of certainty that required the jury to take the expert’s opinion on its face. Instead, the expert could only say that the accident and subsequent surgery “probably” increased the plaintiff’s chances of needed future surgeries by 15-20%. Because of this uncertainty, the jury was free to find that the plaintiff did not suffer a permanent injury.

Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of Maryland car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for the injuries you have sustained. This may even be the case if the driver who caused the accident had no insurance. The dedicated Maryland car accident attorneys at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC have extensive experience handling all types of Maryland car accident claims, and we provide free consultations to accident victims to discuss their cases free of charge. Call 410-654-3600 to schedule your free meeting today.

More Blog Posts:

Maryland Car Accidents Involving Out-of-State Drivers, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published December 4, 2017.

Court Reverses Car Accident Plaintiff’s Summary Judgment Award Regarding Future Medical Expenses, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published December 18, 2017.

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