In car accident injury cases, as in other legal cases, judges make their decisions based on the strength of the evidence presented to them. The testimony and reports of medical expert witnesses are often a deciding factor in personal injury cases, including those related to car accidents.
Have you ever tried to read your own medical records or an article published in a medical journal? Unless you have had specialized training, such as medical school, nursing school, or a biology major in college, it is probably hard for you to understand them well enough to be able to explain how they support your case. The Daubert standard is a rule of evidence that aims to address this problem in car accident lawsuits as well as in other legal cases, both in civil and criminal courts.
The Purpose of the Daubert Standard
Sensational news stories about the possible dangers of pharmaceutical drugs and other commercial products are ubiquitous, especially on the Internet. People who have been harmed by commercial products have recourse to product liability lawsuits.
Many product liability claims have merit; in fact, some products have been linked to a substantial risk of certain illnesses, leading to rulings in favor of the plaintiff, compensatory and punitive damages, legally-required warning labels, and even the removal of some products from the market. Much of the scary stuff you read online about how your favorite foods and cleaning products are killing you have no demonstrable scientific basis, though.
Imagine that you are a defendant in a car accident lawsuit. The plaintiff’s attorney says, “Because of the defendant’s dangerous driving, my client developed hemophilia” and cites an article from the Journal of Medical Clickbait. Of course, your lawyer can then argue that hemophilia is an X-linked disorder, and that, if the plaintiff has hemophilia, then he has had it since birth. Judges can usually spot bogus arguments from miles away, but wouldn’t it be better if untrustworthy scientific arguments didn’t make it to the courtroom at all?
How the Daubert Standard Works
The Daubert standard is based on three United States Supreme Court rulings from the 1990s that overturned lower courts’ rulings where the expert witness testimony was based on insufficiently rigorous research or where the experts did not back up their claims with research that could be independently verified. Therefore, judges should apply the following principles when deciding whether to admit any expert witness testimony on scientific or medical matters:
- The research should be free from conflicts of interest with the present case; it should not have been conducted or funded in connection with the case.
- It should be tested in replicable conditions, on human subjects instead of on animals or through in vitro studies, with the rate of error stated as clearly as possible.
- The expert should explain how the research pertains to the case.
- The research should be based on studies published in peer-reviewed journals
Contact Dana and Dana About Car Accident Cases
A personal injury lawyer can help you use credible expert witness testimony to argue your case. Contact Dana and Dana, a personal injury law firm in Providence, Rhode Island to see if you have grounds for a lawsuit.
Mark Dana has been practicing in Rhode Island for over 25 years. He has handled hundreds of cases in courthouses throughout the state. Due to Attorney Dana’s knowledge and reputation, he can often be seen appearing as the legal commentator for NBC 10 in Providence.