Maryland Court Decision Highlights Significance of Discovery Deadlines in Personal Injury Case

A Maryland car accident victim may take legal action against a negligent driver to recover their medical expenses and other losses.  To succeed, the plaintiff must present sufficient evidence to establish each element of a Maryland personal injury claim.  In a November 15, 2018 car accident case, the Court of Special Appeals considered whether the circuit court erred by not allowing the plaintiff’s expert witness to testify.  The issue was crucial, as the lack of a causation expert subsequently led the circuit court to dismiss the plaintiff’s negligence claims against the defendants.

The case arose out of a rear-end motor vehicle collision.  One of the defendants was driving an automobile that struck the rear of the plaintiff’s car, causing the plaintiff to hit her head on the steering wheel.  A few days later, the plaintiff began to feel dizzy and nauseous. She went to the emergency room and was diagnosed with a concussion.  The plaintiff sought treatment from three other doctors, all of whom diagnosed her with a concussion, for fifteen months following the accident.  The plaintiff also received psychiatric counseling to treat the anxiety, irritability, and cognitive difficulties that she reported after the accident.

Three years after the car accident, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the driver of the vehicle that rear-ended her car, the owner of the driver’s vehicle, and her insurance company.  The plaintiff designated her doctor as an expert witness well before the deadline provided by the court.  However, two days before trial, the plaintiff provided to the defendants a report from her doctor based on a medical exam that had taken place a month before.  The defendants objected, arguing that there was no time to depose the doctor regarding her report before the trial date.  The court agreed and excluded the testimony without continuing the trial to a later date.  The defendants then moved for summary judgment reasoning that, without expert testimony, the plaintiff did not have any evidence that her injuries were caused by the accident.  The trial court granted the motion.

On appeal, the court conducted a Taliaferro analysis of five factors to decide whether the trial court properly excluded the expert’s testimony.  First, the court found that the discovery violation was substantial because the doctor’s report provided new information.  Second, the timing of the disclosure was two days before trial, weighing in favor of exclusion.  Third, the court determined that there was no legitimate reason that the plaintiff could not have been examined before the discovery deadline.  Fourth, the degree of prejudice to the defendants was high.  Finally, although the prejudice may have been cured by postponing the trial, when considering all of the factors collectively, the appeals court ruled that trial court did not err in excluding the testimony.  Accordingly, the judgment in favor of the defendants was upheld.

At Foran & Foran, P.A., our hardworking Maryland attorneys have experience litigating car and truck accidents, slip and fall injuries, medical malpractice, and other actions on behalf of plaintiffs and their families.  Discuss your personal injury case with one of our dedicated lawyers in a free consultation.  Call our office at (301) 441-2022 or contact us online to schedule your appointment today.

More Blog Posts:

Maryland Court Orders Insurance Company to Cover Loss for Wrongful Death Claims Arising Out of Car Accident, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published August 17, 2016

Maryland Court Affirms Verdict for Plaintiff in Car Accident Case, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published June 15, 2016