Maryland Court of Special Appeals Reviews Expert Testimony in Automobile Accident Case

In a recent car accident case, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals was presented with the question of whether the trial court abused its discretion in allowing the defendant’s medical expert to testify about a photograph of the damage to the vehicle in which the plaintiff was riding. In Fusha v. Leonard (Md. Ct. Spec. App. Sept. 24, 2015), the plaintiff was a passenger in a car that was rear-ended by a vehicle operated by the defendant. The plaintiff brought a personal injury claim against the defendant, alleging that his negligence caused her injuries.

The parties agreed that the defendant was at fault for the accident. The issue for the jury was the amount of the plaintiff’s damages, if any. At trial, the defendant offered the expert testimony of an orthopedic surgeon, who provided his opinion as to whether the plaintiff’s injuries were caused by the collision. The expert based part of his opinion on a photograph of the plaintiff’s vehicle that was admitted into evidence. The plaintiff objected to the testimony of the expert regarding the impact that was sustained to the upper part of the truck of her vehicle, and the trial court overruled that objection. At the conclusion of the trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant. The plaintiff then appealed the issue of the expert’s testimony to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, contending that he was not an expert in accident reconstruction and was not qualified to testify as to the nature or severity of the collision.

In Maryland, a trial court has broad discretion over the admissibility of expert testimony, and its ruling may only be disturbed if it is clearly erroneous. In reviewing the case, the appeals court noted that Maryland rules do not prohibit an expert witness from basing his opinion upon the evidence of record. The court stated that the damage sustained to the vehicles was obvious from the photograph itself, and the location of the damage, noted by the expert, was “a matter of common sense.” Therefore, the court held that this testimony was not admitted in error by the trial court.

The defendant’s medical expert also testified that patients with relatively minor injuries are expected to recover promptly. The court held that this testimony constituted a medical opinion that the expert was unquestionably qualified to provide, and it also explained that Maryland courts have uniformly taken the position that the correlation between the nature of the vehicle collision and the severity of personal injuries is rooted in common sense. Accordingly, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals concluded that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in admitting the testimony, and it affirmed the verdict.

If you have been injured in an accident caused by a negligent party, an experienced attorney can help you pursue compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages. The Maryland attorneys at Foran & Foran, P.A. provide skilled and aggressive legal representation to victims of car crashes, medical malpractice, and other accidents. To discuss your case with one of our personal injury attorneys, contact us at (301) 441-2022 or online.

More Blog Posts:

Maryland Court of Appeals Upholds “Gap” Insurance Policy in Pedestrian Accident Case, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published October 31, 2015

Maryland Court Rules in Favor of Insureds, Awards Underinsured Motorist Coverage in Moped and Motor Scooter Cases, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published December 14, 2015

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