The Daubert Standard: Using Medical Research as Evidence in Florida Personal Injury Lawsuits
When an injured plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit requests damages for past and future medical expenses, they must give evidence that treatment they already received was necessary and prove that they will continue to need the treatments they are claiming as future medical expenses. To do this, they often summon medical expert witnesses, and these experts sometimes rely on published research to support their claims. Florida’s Evidence Code requires courts to follow the Daubert Standard when deciding which published studies are admissible as evidence in personal injury lawsuits.
Why the Daubert Standard Matters
The purpose of the Daubert standard is to prevent parties in personal injury lawsuits and their expert witnesses from exploiting judges’ and juries’ lack of expert knowledge of medicine by making misleading claims and from leading them to decide to award or withhold large amounts of money based on poorly conducted scientific studies. If you have done any reading about evidence-based medicine, then you know that researchers have not been able to replicate the results of some highly influential studies. Furthermore, one needs only to read the introduction to Freakonomics to know that some assertions widely held as scientific fact are unsubstantiated and have been repeatedly disproven; even spinach’s reputation for having off-the-charts iron content is the result of a misplaced decimal point.
How the Daubert Standard Works
The Daubert standard is a set of guidelines described in a 1993 U.S. Supreme Court decision; many states, including Florida, require courts to follow them when admitting published scientific studies for use as evidence in court. The Daubert standard requires the judge, not the jury, to decide which research to accept; the judge has time to read the studies carefully and corroborate their claims. Furthermore, the Daubert standard only accepts published studies that clearly state their methodology and identify factors which could have affected the outcome of the studies.
Imagine that you are a plaintiff in a car accident injury lawsuit; the defendant rear-ended your car, and you got severe whiplash injury. The defendant’s expert witness cites a study published in Claptrap Quarterly Review in which a team of researchers from Loch Ness Monster University proved that the only way you can get whiplash injury is if a hippopotamus bites you on the night of a full moon. The researchers do not state how they reached that conclusion. Under the Daubert standard, such a study would never be admissible in court, but without it, the defendant’s witness can present it in such a compelling way as to sway the court in their favor. The Daubert standard, which Florida did not adopt until 2019, is a victory for science.
Reach Out to an Attorney Today for Help
A personal injury lawyer can find expert witnesses to make the scientific details of your injuries and treatment make sense to the judge. Contact a South Florida personal injury lawyer at the Law Offices of David M. Benenfeld, P.A. to discuss your personal injury case.