The Daubert Standard In Florida Personal Injury Cases
Your grandson thinks that if his toy dragon rubs its wings on your shoulder, the pain from the car accident injury you sustained a year ago will disappear. Your sister-in-law thinks that you just need to smile more, and the pain will go away. Your niece thinks that going vegan is the solution to your chronic pain. Your neighbor thinks your pain is the work of space aliens that probed your shoulder while you were sleeping. Fortunately, none of them get to tell the jury in your car accident lawsuit their ideas about your injuries and whether the person who caused your accident should have to pay damages. Orthopedic surgeons who have never treated you do not even get to speak in front of the jury, at least not until the judge reviews the information that they plan to tell to the jury. This is because Florida, like many other states, follows the Daubert standard in determining the admissibility of medical expert witness testimony in criminal and civil cases, including car accident lawsuits. A Florida personal injury lawyer can seek the expertise of expert witnesses in building a compelling case in your personal injury lawsuit.
Why the Daubert Standard
The Daubert standard is named after a 1993 U.S. Supreme Court decision in a case where a Louisiana family filed a product liability lawsuit against a manufacturer of prenatal vitamins, claiming that the vitamins caused their son to be born with disabilities. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled to uphold a verdict in favor of the vitamin manufacturer, since the studies cited by the plaintiffs’ expert witnesses were not transparent in their methodology and not sufficiently closely related to the plaintiffs’ case.
Florida adopted the Daubert standard in 2019. Prior to that, it Followed the Frye standard, which is based on a U.S. Supreme Court decision from the 1920s. The Frye standard requires only that the ideas presented by expert witnesses have widespread acceptance in the expert’s professional field.
The Judge Reviews the Evidence Before the Jury Hears It
The Daubert standard requires the judge to read the studies that the expert witness plans to cite and the conclusions that the expert witness has drawn from them and to decide on a case-by-case basis whether they are admissible. In other words, any piece of evidence the jury hears must be approved by the judge.
Citing Published Research
Expert witnesses often cite published studies in their testimony, for example, to show that a treatment you received for your accident-related injuries was medically necessary. The Daubert standard requires the studies cited to be directly relevant to your case. In other words, clinical trials count, but animal studies and in vitro studies do not. Likewise, the experiments must be transparent about their methodology and their margin of error.
Let Us Help You Today
A personal injury lawyer can help you file a lawsuit and prepare for a trial, including gathering evidence from expert witnesses. Contact Halpern Santos & Pinkert, P.A. for a consultation.