Accident Reconstruction Expert Witness Testimony Allowed in Tractor-Trailer Crash Litigation

Summary: Accident Reconstruction Expert Witness testimony allowed because the court concluded that his use of simulations was reliable and helpful to the jury.

Facts:  This case (Abbott et al v. Mega Trucking, LLC et al – United States District Court – Middle District of Alabama – March 24, 2023) involves a personal liability claim resulting from a crash between two tractor-trailers.  The plaintiff, Touri Abbott, alleges that Patrice Lumumba Morgan did not yield the right of way and is seeking recovery under numerous bases including negligence and wantonness.  The plaintiff hired three experts to prove her case, including Accident Reconstruction Expert Witness William F. Messerschmidt.  The defendants filed a motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of these experts, including Mr Messerschmidt.

Discussion:  The plaintiffs agree that Mr. Messerschmidt is qualified to provide most of his opinions about the crash,.  But, they argue that three of his expert witness opinions  as well as the accident simulations he created are not reliable and will not help the jury.

First, the plaintiffs state that one of Mr. Messerschmidt‘s opinion is unreliable because he admitted that he does not know when Mr. Abbott used the jake brake.  Thus, the defendants argue that his opinion is based on inaccurate calculations and is thus inadmissible.

The plaintiffs maintain that Mr. Messerschmidt employed reliable physics-based reliable methodologies  to come to his conclusion.  In addition, the plaintiffs state that Mr. Messerschmidt used multiple sources of information to come to his conclusions, including photographs, the testimony of Mr. Abbott, dash cam video, and other information.  In addition, the plaintiffs also point to Mr. Messerschmidts testimony related to the scientific methods underlying the simulations he created about the crash.

The court concluded that Mr. Messerschmidt’s expert witness testimony are not speculative and the methods he used to reach his conclusions are reliable and relevant and will assist the the jury.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness opinion of William F. Messerschmidt is denied.