Legal Memorandum: Admissibility of Biomechanical Expert Testimony

Issue: Under Connecticut law, is the testimony of a biomechanical expert admissible in a motor vehicle collision involving injuries?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure, Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Testimony of biomechanical expert; Motor vehicle collisions; Injuries
Jurisdiction: Connecticut, Federal
Cited Cases: 357 S.C. 447; 799 A.2d 1178; 942 A.2d 769; 593 S.E.2d 603; 129 Wash. App. 1043; 842 A.2d 1222; 353 N.J .Super. 191
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 01/01/2014

The testimony of a biomechanical expert has been used in a motor vehicle collisions to support the existence of injuries, although not all courts have permitted it.  In Johnston-Forbes v. Matsunaga, 311 P.3d 1260 (Wash. Ct. App. 2013), the parties were involved in a car accident and the defendant successfully offered testimony from a biomedical engineer that the forces exerted on the plaintiff during the accident were much less than those experienced from ordinary daily activities. Conversely, Eskin v. Carden, 842 A.2d 1222 (Del. 2004) is an example of a case declining to entertain the testimony of the biomedical expert.  The appellate court affirmed the trial court’s exclusion because there was no indication that the testimony would take into account the specific physical traits of the plaintiff; and, as a result, the testimony could be confusing.  A general summary of cases on both sides follows.

Cases that permitted expert testimony

Cocca v. Conway, 725 N.Y.S.2d 125 (N.Y. App. Div. 2001). Engineers’ expert disclosures were sufficiently detailed so they could testify as to cause of injury.

Gonzalez-Mendoza v. Burdick, 175 Wash. App. 1038 (2013).  Testimony of biomechanical expert was not so novel as to require a Frye analysis.  The parties’ agreement a permit testimony so long as the expert did not opine as to whether the accident resulted in medical causation (the court noted that the causal relationship of an accident or injury to […]

Subscribe to Litigation Pathfinder

To get the full-text of this Legal Memorandum ... and more!

(Month-to-month and annual subscriptions available)