Tractor Trailer Expert Reconstructionists Must be Chosen Early

deadline dateWhen working on commercial trucking cases there are often complex disputes over speed, reaction times and lighting. Expert collision reconstructionists costs into the thousands of dollars, but in the right case, they can be worth every penny. Police officers on the scene do their bet but they often miss facts because they are primarily focused on whether a prosecutable crime occurred. Experts have a broader scope of investigation and look at who was negligent and how the crash occurred. 

There are other types of experts that should be used when there are complex damages as well. Forensic accountants and lifetime earnings experts can help juries to understand lost income issues when they are not obvious. One commonality is these experts have to be disclosed to the other side on time when the judge orders it. 

Courts overseeing Georgia personal injury cases impose strict deadlines to ensure the orderly progression of cases on the court’s docket. Normally, if a party is diligent in conducting their preparation and investigation but requires additional time a court will allow for a continuance, so long as ample notice is provided. However, if a party misses a court-imposed deadline, it is likely that the court will impose some kind of sanction or, at the least, deny the untimely request.

A recent Georgia car accident case serves as a good example. In that case, the plaintiff was injured in a car accident that the plaintiff claimed was caused by the defendant. The plaintiff filed a Georgia personal injury case against the defendant, and the presiding judge set forth a timeline with several deadlines.

In January 2016, the first scheduling conference was conducted, giving the parties six months to complete discovery. That deadline was extended several times, and during that time the plaintiff – a competitive athlete – identified an expert witness who would testify regarding the accident’s impact on his personal life and athletic career.

The court set a trial date for August 1, 2017, and ordered that all witnesses be designated and their names be provided to opposing counsel by May 12, 2017. On May 12, the plaintiff substituted his expert for another, and amended a previous response to the court regarding the damages he was seeking. Specifically, the plaintiff stated that “in addition to past, current and future lost earnings, [the plaintiff] has further suffered special and/or general damages in the form of, inter alia, diminished earning capacity.”On June 8, the defendant deposed the plaintiff’s expert and on June 28, the defense designated their own expert witness. At a pre-trial hearing in July, the plaintiff argued that the defendant’s expert should not be permitted to testify because the expert had not been designated prior to the May 12 deadline.

The defendant argued that the plaintiff’s last-minute substitution of his expert and amendment to the claims he intended to pursue justified the defendant’s untimely disclosure. The court rejected the defendant’s argument, precluded the defense expert from testifying, and the jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff in the amount of $2 million.

The defendant appealed, renewing his argument that he should have been granted additional time to obtain and designate an expert due to the plaintiff’s last-minute substitution and amendment. The court disagreed. The court explained that the defendant should have been on notice that the plaintiff was seeking compensation for future loss of earning capacity for several reasons. First, the court noted that the plaintiff had previously indicated that he was calling a witness to testify on the impact the accident had on his athletic career. Additionally, the plaintiff had submitted a $3 million settlement request. Finally, the court noted that in an early document, the plaintiff stated that he “was not claiming past or current lost wages. 

However, [the plaintiff] may present evidence at the time of trial on this of diminished future wages or earning capacity.”Taking all this into account, the court determined that the defendant should have been aware of the nature of the plaintiff’s claims, and thus, there was no justification for failing to designate an expert until after the court-imposed deadline had passed.

Have You Been Injured in a Georgia Car Accident?If you or a loved one has recently been the victim of another driver’s negligence, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Georgia personal injury lawsuit. Christopher M. Simon is a dedicated personal injury attorney with extensive experience handling all types of Georgia car accident claims. He represents injured clients bringing claims against negligent motorists and their insurance companies across the state, including in DeKalb County and Gwinnett County. To learn more, call 404-259-7635 to schedule a free consultation today.
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