Auto Insurance Expert Witness Partially Allowed to Testify in Car Crash Case

Summary: Three experts including an Auto Insurance Expert Witness, were partially allowed to testify in part in a bad faith insurance dispute regarding insurance company’s failure to pay claims on time.

Facts: Patsy Ambrose vs State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, Case No. 20-1011 Section “E” (United States District Court Eastern District of Louisiana) involves an insurance claims dispute. Plaintiffs Patsy and Ted Ambrose were driving when another driver struck their vehicle. The Plaintiffs allegedly suffered crippling injuries from the incident. Following the incident, Patty and Ted submitted proof of injuries to State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company. The plaintiffs filed suit after alleging that State Farm failed to pay within the suggested time period. The defendants hired Auto Insurance Expert witness Dr. Everett Robert to provide expert witness testimony. The plaintiffs, Patsy and Ted Ambrose, filed a motion to exclude Dr. Everett Robert, and two other expert witnesses’ testimonies in the case.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Discussion: The case centered around the alleged minimal impact of the crash and its relation to the plaintiffs claims for payment. The plaintiff argued that Dr. Everett Robert was not qualified to speak on if the impact of the crash was enough to cause property damage or injuries.. After agreement between the plaintiff and defendant, Dr. Robert would not be allowed to testify regarding the low impact of the collision or injuries because of his lack of expertise in biomechanics and accident reconstruction.

Defendant also hired an Automobile Mechanic and Body Repair Expert Witness acting as a repair estimator. Defendant rejected the limitation of their repair estimator, Bill Werner, from testifying. Werner would only be allowed to testify if his perspective is based on witnesses’ viewpoint, acting as a middle ground between witnesses to determine fact, and also opinion would not be argued from a scientific or other specialized knowledge based perspective. Instead, the repair estimator would only be allowed to testify following examination and inspection of repairs that would be needed for a vehicle post-car crash. Werner would also be able to speak on force of impact and potential damage to the bumper of a vehicle. The court opined that his conclusions related to the force of the impact to be fair because minimal impact in an automobile accident correlates with potential injuries that should be considered by the jury. After analysis of Werner’s arguments, the court permitted him to speak on personal observations of the vehicle, but not on the relationship between low impact of the collision and its relation to property damage or the plaintiff’s injuries. 

The plaintiffs moved to exclude the testimony of Dr. Everett Robert and Ronnie Ducote, a Vocational Evaluation & Rehabilitation Expert Witness. Plaintiffs claim that a compensation statement was not presented for both expert witnesses. Under rule 26(a)(2)(B)(vi), expert reports must be submitted that contain information regarding compensation that was paid for testimony in the case. If this expert report is not published, witnesses may be suspended from the case under Rule 37(c)(1). Defendant saw the missing expert reports as inconsequential because the compensation records were given to the plaintiffs after this point was brought up. After the expert reports were given to the plaintiff and a four-step analysis of the argument, the court opined that the motion to remove Dr. Robert and Mr. Ducote was not reasonable.

Conclusion: The motion to limit Dr. Robert’s testimony regarding minimal impact and its relationship to injury and property damage was granted and denied in part. Dr. Robert would not be allowed to include the low impact argument, whereas Werner would be allowed to speak on minimal impact only if his argument is related to observations of the plaintiff’s vehicle. The motion to exclude Dr. Robert and Ronnie Ducote’s testimony because of missing compensation statements was denied.