The May 2016 issue of Plaintiff magazine reported on how to combat defense biomechanics experts in a personal injury case, especially a case involving a motor vehicle accident.
The biomechanics expert is typically utilized to understand injury causation. Personal injury cases require the expert witness to help juries understand complex science used to prove difficult issues at trial. Expert opinions can be persuasive to a jury, or dispositive to the outcome of a case.
Biomechanics is generally the study of the effect of external and internal forces on the movement of the body and internal stresses and deformations of biological tissue, which includes muscles, bones, and nerves.
The author of the article, Spencer Lucas, spoke about his own trial where he faced a biomechanics expert who opined that his client, age 50, could not have possibly suffered significant injury in the crash because the client has a history of chronic neck and back pain based on pre-accident medical records and 30-year occupation as a concrete pumper.
To prepare against the biomechanics expert, Lucas researched the expert’s background by Internet searches. When zero results came up, Lucas learned the expert recently underwent name and gender transformation. After learning the witness’s prior name, the attorney located past depositions and presentation slides that committed the expert witness to particular opinions about cervical and lumbar injuries, the injuries the plaintiff experienced.
The witness did 95 percent defense work, and generated several hundred thousand dollars in income yearly testifying for defendants. The expert’s employer was a publicly-traded company with $300 million annual revenue from mostly defense work. Learning the witness’ background set up a trial strategy to bring up the bias the witness and her firm had to the jury.
Lucas studied the expert’s previous opinions to question the expert’s accident reconstruction foundation for opinions, and present the injury forces involved. Lucas advised to poke holes in a defense expert’s opinions if the expert’s analysis is based on a flawed reconstruction.
Lucas advised to use medical records during trial to discuss the positioning of the injured plaintiff with respect to the mechanism of injury because the defense lawyers often fail to provide their experts some of the medical records. When the expert is not aware of the medical records, cross-examine the witness by blaming the defense lawyers for failing to provide the witness with the key records.
Lucas begins his expert witness cross-examination preparation with impeachment video deposition clips. He gets a synchronized video deposition of the key defense experts (e.g. the orthopedic expert, accident reconstruction, and biomechanic). With the synched video, make impeachment clips and load them onto a laptop to play for the fact finder when the expert attempts to deny what was said in deposition. If the defense expert is a polished and likeable witness, focus the negatives on the defense attorneys and their strategy to hide what is real.
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