Earlier last month, the Connecticut Court of Appeals issued a written opinion in a Connecticut car accident case requiring the court to discuss the distinction between a judge’s decision whether to admit certain evidence and the weight that evidence is afforded by the fact-finder once admitted. Ultimately, the appellate court determined that the trial court properly admitted the plaintiff’s expert witness testimony yet was within its right to assign the evidence little weight and find in favor of the defendant.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the Connecticut Department of Transportation after she was involved in a car accident with a Department-owned vehicle. The plaintiff’s complaint alleged that she was driving southbound on the highway when she passed the Department vehicle. As she passed the vehicle, she heard a loud bang, and the next thing she knew, her car was sliding upside-down on the highway. The plaintiff claimed that the Department was liable for the negligence of the Department employee who was operating the vehicle at the time of the accident.
The Department denied liability and maintained that the plaintiff was the one who caused the accident. The Department called the employee to testify. He explained to the court that his vehicle was pulled completely off the road and that he had engaged the vehicle’s hazard lights when the Department vehicle was struck from behind by the plaintiff’s car.
In response, the plaintiff called an accident reconstructionist as an expert witness. The Department objected to the admissibility of the expert’s testimony, claiming that it was based on speculation; however, the trial judge allowed the expert to testify. The expert explained that, in his opinion, the accident was caused by the Department employee pulling out into the plaintiff’s lane of travel.
After the conclusion of the evidence, the court found in favor of the Department. The plaintiff appealed, arguing that the court did not properly admit and consider her expert witness’ testimony.
The Appellate Court’s Ruling
The appellate court affirmed the ruling below, determining that the lower court was proper in its handling of the plaintiff’s expert witness testimony. The court explained that it would have been improper for the court to prevent the witness’ testimony, but the court did allow the testimony. The determination of how much weight to afford that testimony was a decision left to the discretion of the judge. In other words, the judge was proper to allow the evidence but was also proper to assign it little to no weight.
Have You Been Injured in a Connecticut Car Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of Connecticut car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. As the discussion above illustrates, the selection and preparation of expert witnesses in Connecticut personal injury cases is of critical importance. Brickley Law represents accident victims in a wide range of personal injury cases, including Connecticut car accidents and slip-and-fall injuries. We represent clients in New Canaan, Wilton, Norwalk, and Darien. Call 203-599-3600 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney to discuss your case today.