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Doctor Says Car Accident Did Not Cause Spinal Injuries, Jury and California Appeals Court Agree

May 11, 2017


In a decision filed just last month, a California Appeals court entered their decision regarding a personal injury case.

The case arose out of a car accident whereby the plaintiff was purportedly rear-ended by the defendant. According to testimony, the accident occurred when the defendant’s foot accidentally slipped off the brake temporarily, while he attempted to reach an item that had fallen to the floor. After pulling over to assess the damage to their vehicles, both drivers ascertained negligible damage to their vehicles, no emergency services or tow vehicles were called, and the plaintiff did not exhibit any signs of injury. After exchanging insurance information, the two individuals drove off in their own vehicles.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant. The defendant answered, admitting liability for the collision and property damage, which had been paid, but denying that the accident had caused the plaintiff to suffer any damages. The issues of damages and causation went to a jury, and the ultimate verdict was in favor of the defendant. The plaintiff appealed, claiming that the testimony of the defendant’s designated medical expert was improper.

At trial, the defendant’s medical expert had stated that in his opinion, the accident could not have possibly caused the injuries for which the plaintiff was seeking compensation. He stated his opinions based on the record’s statement that the accident occurred at a slow speed, as well as based upon various medical records that he had reviewed. The plaintiff’s counsel asked him multiple questions regarding his opinions and did not object to any of his statements.

The plaintiff moved for a new trial on several grounds arising out of the plaintiff’s contention that the doctor gave “improper” expert testimony at trial regarding accident reconstruction. The appeals court found that the trial court’s decision to deny a new trial was not arbitrary or capricious because the doctor’s testimony was not unlike that of the other doctor’s forming their opinions as to whether the force of the accident could have caused the plaintiff’s injuries. The appeals court also restated the fact that the plaintiff’s counsel never objected to any of the doctor’s testimony, and it further pointed out that much of the doctor’s testimony to which the plaintiff objected and for which he sought a new trial was based upon testimony elicited by the plaintiff’s counsel on cross-examination. Thus, the appeals court affirmed the trial court’s decision denying a new trial by failing to find any irregularities or surprises in the trial court justifying a new one.

The court stated succinctly, “[w]e reiterate: this case came down to a battle of experts, and the jury decided that Dr. Keister’s properly admitted testimony was more persuasive. No more needs to be said.”

The judgment was thus affirmed.

Auto collisions can lead to serious, life-altering injuries. When victims are injured because of the carelessness of another driver, they are usually entitled to compensation for their injuries. If you were injured in a car accident caused by the negligence of another driver, call 866.771.7181 today to schedule a free consultation with The Rubinstein Law Group.

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