A Southern California Man Significantly Injured in a Bus Accident Gets a New Trial in His Negligence Case

Whenever you sue for injuries suffered in a vehicle accident, it is important to give the jury all the medical evidence they need to rule in your favor. This may often include testimony from your treating physician, as well as other physicians offering opinions as expert witnesses. These doctors can help the jury understand exactly what happened to you, why that injury is so harmful to you and why you needed the treatment you received and will need more treatment going forward. To help you determine what type of medical expert evidence, and how much, you need to best strengthen your case, be sure you have retained an experienced San Mateo injury attorney to guide you through making this and other vital decisions.

As an example of just how important these medical experts can be, look at the case of V.P., an inmate at a Los Angeles County jail. V.P. who was reportedly injured while being transported by the county when the bus in which he was riding struck a pillar. That impact allegedly caused him to suffer substantial injuries, including one that a doctor concluded surgery was needed to address.

Testimony by medical professionals played a pivotal role in V.P.’s case. He presented testimony from both an orthopedic surgeon and a chiropractor. This testimony from doctors can be particularly helpful if you’ve been involved in more than one injury accident over the years, as V.P. had been. If you’re in that situation, the defense will likely try to argue that the injuries you’ve suffered actually were the result of a different accident. Testimony from your doctors can help defeat that.

The bus accident that was the basis of V.P.’s lawsuit happened in 2013, but the inmate also suffered injuries in accidents in 2010 and 2016. His surgeon testified that the 2013 accident caused the injuries the man asserted in this lawsuit. The county, however, put a different doctor on the witness stand, who testified that the majority of V.P.’s harm came from other accidents and also testified that V.P. didn’t need surgery.

The jury found the defense doctor convincing and awarded V.P. only $5,000.

Doctors testifying as rebuttal witnesses versus testifying as expert witnesses

When that happens, one of the best things you can do is seek a new trial. In this case, V.P. appealed and got that new trial. The problem, which prevented him from getting a fair trial, related back to the defense doctor’s testimony. The defense doctor in this lawsuit was not designated as an expert witness. There is a specific procedure a party must go through to get a person designated as an expert witness, and the court must the witness’s expert status in order for the witness.

That’s important because, if a professional like a doctor is a rebuttal witness instead of a designated expert, the range of things about which he can testify is much more limited. In V.P.’s case, the defense doctor was supposed to be testifying as a witness rebutting the testimony of V.P.’s surgeon, not as an expert. That meant that the defense doctor’s testimony should have focused strictly on advancing the defense argument that V.P.’s surgeon’s testimony was false or lacked the necessary “foundational facts.”

However, in V.P.’s case, the defense doctor’s testimony went far beyond just those limited boundaries. In essence, the appeals court concluded that the defense doctor was allowed to testify as an expert at trial even though he was never designated as an expert. When that happens, that can be a serious error that can cause major unfair damage to a plaintiff’s case. When you can show that, you can get a new trial, as V.P. did.

When you’re hurt in a car or bus accident, you need legal counsel who can help you present the facts you need the jury to know, and who will understand the rules of law and court procedure keenly well. Get that kind of reliable representation by reaching out to the San Mateo injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos. Our attorneys have been helping injured people achieve positive results for many years. To set up a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys, contact us at 650-345-8484 or through our website.