My case was dismissed because my attorney did not hire an expert to prove he medical issues related to the crash!

Thomas Chetney v. New Jersey Manufacturers Re-Insurance

Submitted by New Jersey Personal Injury Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.

On February 5, 1998 plaintiff, Chetney was working as a paramedic when his ambulance was struck by a vehicle operated by an uninsured driver. From this accident plaintiff claimed he endured a permanent injury to his lumbosacrial spine. Even though, plaintiff had a few prior accidents before this one, his wife and himself testified that the accident in 1998 was permanent. In their testimony, they both mention how Chetney was active, fit, participated in many physical events, played with their kids, and helped neighbors with tree cutting and snow shoveling. However, after this incident most activities were eliminated or restricted.

Defendant objected to the plaintiff testifying that the collision caused him to suffer erectile dysfunction. The trial court allowed plaintiff and wife to testify to how after the crash this became an issue in their relationship. The defendant filed a motion to bar any testimony about the erectile dysfunction because:

  1. plaintiff did not disclose this information in discovery, and
  2. there was no expert testimony which establish the plaintiff suffered from this issue and the ED was causally related to the crash.

The court reasoned that expert testimony was not necessary to establish what Chetney experienced himself. Chetney was free to testify about how the accident affected his life.

On appeal, the defendant argued before the Appellate Court that the trial court erred in allowing the plaintiffs to testify about the erectile dysfunction. The Court stated:

  1. the specific diagnosis of erectile dysfunction is outside the expertise of a lay witness and must be presented by a licensed physician or an expert,
  2. Chetney’s symptoms could have had psychological or physical causes unrelated to his issue,
  3. Plaintiffs needed an expert to establish the causal relationship between the crash and this condition,
  4. the couple had no experience like this prior to the accident, but coincidence is not causation,
  5. there was no evidence established when the condition first appeared so it could not be specifically associated with this incident.

Based on the foregoing, the Court reversed and remanded the decision.

Hark and Hark handle these expert causation issues in our office every day. If you have any questions about your case please call us at 866-HARK-LAW!

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Jeffrey Hark is a New Jersey Civil and Criminal Lawyer.

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