Tennessee Court Clarifies Standard for Admitting an Expert Report

Under federal law, for an expert report to be admissible the party introducing the report must show the expert witness is qualified, the report sets forth an opinion relevant to determining an issue of fact, and the testimony is reliable. The United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee recently explained that a district court evaluating whether an expert report should be admitted is not required to analyze whether the report is correct, but only if the report is supported by a reliable foundation. If you were the victim in a Tennessee car accident, it is in your best interest to retain a knowledgeable car accident attorney to discuss the circumstances surrounding the accident and develop a plan to assist you in recovering damages.

Factual Scenario

Allegedly, the plaintiff and the defendant driver were involved in a car accident. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant driver, a truck driver, was negligent and that his employer should be held vicariously liable for her injuries. In response, the defendant alleged that the plaintiff caused the accident. The defendants served the plaintiff with expert disclosures as required by Federal law. The defendants’ expert reviewed photographs, video footage, and analyzed the specifications of the plaintiff’s vehicle, a reconstruction program and his own experience in determining that the plaintiff caused the accident by driving into the path of the defendant driver and that the collision was minor. The plaintiff moved to preclude the expert and his report, arguing that the report was contrary to the photographs of the accident and the physical evidence. The plaintiff also argued the report alleged negligent behavior on behalf of the defendant driver, not the plaintiff.

United States District Court of Tennessee Holding

The court stated that it is the duty of the party offering expert testimony to show the expert is qualified by a preponderance of the evidence. In determining whether an expert report is reliable, the court does not look to whether the opinion set forth is accurate, but whether the opinion is supported by factual evidence rather than mere speculation.

Upon review, the court denied the plaintiff’s motion to preclude the defendants’ expert report. The court stated that the photographs of the scene did not support the conclusion that the report was unreliable, as any weakness in the factual basis of an expert opinion goes to the weight of the evidence rather than the admissibility of the report. The court also explained that the fact that the plaintiff disagreed with the expert as to whether the defendant driver’s actions were reasonable was not grounds to exclude the report. Lastly, the court found the report included sufficiently reliable calculations regarding the force of the impact, that supported the expert’s opinion regarding the severity of the impact. Therefore, the court declined to exclude the report.

Retain an Experienced Tennessee Car Accident Attorney

Expert reports can provide strong evidence in support of your position in a car accident case, but they can also be used against you. If you were involved in a car accident, it is important to retain an experienced car accident attorney who can gather evidence in your favor and establish a strong argument that you are entitled to damages. Eric Beasley is a seasoned Tennessee car accident attorney with the knowledge and experience needed to assist you in recovering the damages you are owed. To schedule a meeting to discuss your case, call us at 615-859-2223.

More Blog Posts:

Tennessee District Court Holds That Boilerplate Language in an Incident Report is Insufficient to Provide Defendant Notice to Retain Records Tennessee Personal Injury Blog, October 25, 2018.

Tennessee Court of Appeals Rules Medical Records Are Admissible to Prove Plaintiff’s Prior Condition Tennessee Personal Injury Blog, September 25, 2018.

Spoliation of Evidence in Tractor-trailer accident in Tennessee Tennessee Personal Injury Blog, August 2, 2018.