Accident Reconstruction Expert Witness Testimony Allowed in Motor Vehicle Accident Litigation

Plaintiff filed suit against defendants after a motor vehicle accident.  Defendant hired an Accident Reconstruction Expert Witness to provide testimony.  Plaintiff filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying, which was denied by the court.

Facts:  This case (Franco v. Mabe Trucking Co Inc – United States District Court – Western District of Louisiana – March 6th, 2019) involves a motor vehicle accident.  In November 2015, the plaintiff’s vehicle was involved in a collision with a truck owned by the defendant.  The plaintiff alleges that the accident was caused by the negligent operation of the truck.  The defendants allege that the accident was caused solely by the negligence of the plaintiff not paying attention.  The defendant hired Accident Reconstruction Expert Witness William Miller to provide testimony.  The plaintiff has filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.

Discussion:  The defendant argues that Mr. Miller’s testimony should be excluded on three grounds: 1) he did not perform a “lead vehicle analysis;” 2) his “context clues” are not relevant; and 3) he should not be permitted to speculate on the reason for the plaintiff’s alleged distraction prior to impact.

The plaintiff alleges that several studies have confirmed the difficulty following drivers have in determining closing speeds and responding  to a sloe-moving lead vehicle.  The plaintiff points to a paper on the subject and authored by Jeffrey W. Muttart.  Franco states that, according to Dr. Muttart, the generally accepted methodology in reconstructing rear-end collisions is a lead vehicle detection analysis.  Thus, argues the plaintiff, Mr. Miller should have performed a lead vehicle detection analysis.

In addition, Dr. Muttart’s lead vehicle analysis allows the consideration of context clues in reconstructing a rear-end collision.  Mr. Miller has opined that there are numerous objects that were context clues for the plaintiff.  In his deposition, Mr. Miller “backed off” these context clues as being relevant considerations for the following driver in this case.  Thus, the plaintiff argues that Mr. Miller’s assertions would confuse or mislead the jury.

Finally, the plaintiff alleges that Mr. Miller should not be allowed to speculate as to the reason for Franco’s alleged distraction prior to impact, as he has stated in his deposition that he had not seen any evidence of any alleged distraction prior to impact.

The court opines that Mr. Miller is qualified to testify as an expert and that his opinions and methodology are sufficiently relevant and reliable and that the plaintiff’s challenges are more appropriate subjects for vigorous cross examination.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of William Miller is denied