Earlier this month, a federal appellate court released an opinion illustrating why some Maryland motorcycle accident cases may require the testimony from an expert witness. The case involved a motorcycle accident that was allegedly caused by a defective tire and made worse by the fact that the helmets worn by the plaintiffs were also defective. However, the court concluded that the plaintiffs’ case against the defendants was insufficient as a matter of law because the plaintiffs failed to present any expert witness testimony establishing causation.
According to the court’s written opinion, the plaintiffs were on a cross-country motorcycle trip. While riding through Nebraska, one of the motorcycle’s tires became punctured, causing the tire to deflate rapidly. As a result, the driver of the motorcycle lost control and crashed into the center median. Both plaintiffs were wearing helmets; however, they each sustained serious head injuries.
A few months after the accident, the plaintiffs received notice that the helmets they had worn during the crash were recalled. The plaintiff filed a product liability lawsuit against several parties who manufactured, marketed, distributed, and sold the helmets and motorcycle. The plaintiffs claimed that a defective tire caused the accident, and that their injuries were worsened because the helmets were defective.
Regarding the helmets, the plaintiffs pointed to the recall as evidence that the helmets were unsafe. However, the plaintiffs did not present any expert witness testimony explaining that their injuries were made worse by the helmets’ defects. The trial court held that the plaintiffs could not establish their helmet-related claims because they could not prove causation. The plaintiffs appealed.
On appeal, the court affirmed the lower court’s decision to dismiss the plaintiffs’ case. The court explained that a product liability plaintiff does not always need to present expert witness testimony to prove their case. However, in this case, an expert was necessary to explain to the jury the plaintiffs’ theory that the faulty helmets “enhanced” their injuries. The court noted that an expert witness is required in cases where, without the expert, the jury would be “engaging in guesswork.” The court acknowledged that the plaintiffs suffered severe injuries, “but without the assistance of an expert, a juror would be unable to distinguish between those injuries caused by the crash … and any enhanced or more severe injuries caused by the defective helmet.”
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Motorcycle Accident?
If you recently were injured in a Maryland motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. At the Maryland personal injury law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC we represent injury victims in all types of traffic accident cases, including Maryland motorcycle accidents. We also handle Maryland product liability cases, wrongful death claims, and cases involving incidents of medical malpractice. To learn more about how our dedicated team of experienced attorneys can help you pursue a claim for compensation, call 410-654-3600 today. Because we operate on a contingent-fee basis, we are only paid for our services if we can help you recover for your injuries.