The Daubert Standard and Expert Witnesses

Kentucky uses the Daubert standard from a US Supreme Court case, Daubert v.Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993).  The standard governs the admissibility of expert witness testimony during US federal legal proceedings and over half of state proceedings like KY personal injury cases.

Pursuant to the Daubert standard, whether an expert witness testimony is admissible in court, depends on:  (1)whether an expert’s opinion has been peer reviewed; (2) whether an expert’s theory can be and has been tested; (3) known or potential error rate of an expert’s theory; and (4) general acceptance of a expert’s theory in the relevant scientific community.  In Daubert,the Supreme Court decided FRE 702 required a trier of fact to exclude expert  testimony that is not reliable.

Expert witnesses differ from lay witnesses in that they are able to give opinions.  For lay witnesses, they must testify based on personal knowledge such as what they see, hear, or touch.  Usually experts who help a personal injury plaintiff are doctors who testify on the accident victim’s medical conditions.

According to Michael T. Taylor at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, the Daubert standard puts the burden on the expert witness to prove the acceptability and validity of the expert’s scientific conclusions.

In Daubert, the US Supreme Court decided Federal Rule of Evidence 702 applied to the admissibility of expert testimony at trial. FRE 702 states:

“A witness who is qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience,training, or education may testify in the form of an opinion or otherwise if:

(a)the expert’s scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will help the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue;

(b)the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data;

(c)the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods; and

(d)the expert has reliably applied the principles and methods to the facts of the case.

In personal injury actions, expert witnesses are often compensated to provide records reviewsand testimony for the plaintiff.  The Daubert standard, putting the burden of proof on the expert witness, may be pro defendant.  The defendant is motivated to discredit a plaintiff’s expert witness’ opinions.

If you or a loved one gets into a car, slip and fall, or other personal injury accident, look for an attorney with knowledge of expert witness testimony admissibility standards. Our attorneys are suited in fighting for the amount that appropriately compensates an auto or other personal injury victim.