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Court Discusses Difference Between Preventing Evidence from Consideration and Assigning the Evidence Little Weight

Posted in Auto Accidents

Earlier this month, an appellate court in Connecticut issued a written opinion in a car accident case involving the question of whether the trial court improperly excluded certain defense evidence from consideration at trial. The case is illustrative for New Mexico personal injury plaintiffs because the very same considerations are present in New Mexico personal injury cases when a judge determines whether to admit evidence, and if so, how much weight it is given.

Admissibility Versus Weight

As a preliminary matter, only certain evidence is relevant in a personal injury trial, and only relevant evidence will be admitted for the jury’s consideration. However, once a judge determines that evidence may be admitted, it is then up to the fact-finder (either a judge or a jury) to assess the evidence and determine how much weight to give it.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured in a car accident involving an employee of the Department of Transportation. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the Department, claiming that it should be responsible for its employee’s negligent conduct.

At trial, the plaintiff presented an expert witness who was an accident reconstructionist by trade. The defense objected to the expert’s testimony, claiming that it was based only on opinion. However, the court allowed the expert to testify. The expert explained that it was his opinion that the plaintiff’s version of what had occurred was correct and that the Department employee pulled out in front of the plaintiff without notice. Despite this testimony, the judge (acting as the fact-finder because the parties elected not to have a jury hear the case) found in favor of the Department.

The plaintiff appealed, arguing that the lower court failed to allow the testimony of her expert witness. However, the court rejected the plaintiff’s argument. The court explained that the judge did allow the expert to testify over the defendant’s objection, but when it came to resolving the case, the judge did not credit the expert’s testimony over that of the Department employee. This, the court held, was permissible because part of a fact-finder’s job is to assess the credibility of witnesses. As a result, the plaintiff will not be permitted to further seek compensation for her injuries.

Have You Been Injured in a New Mexico Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a New Mexico car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The skilled New Mexico personal injury lawyers at the Fine Law Firm have decades of combined experience representing injured New Mexicans in a wide range of personal injury matters, including car accidents, truck accidents, product liability, and medical malpractice. We offer free consultations to discuss your case with no obligation to continue forward with our representation. Call 505-889-FINE to schedule your free consultation to meet with a dedicated and experienced Albuquerque car accident attorney.

More Blog Posts:

New Mexico’s Dram Shop Liability Statute Can Help Victims of Drunk Driving Accidents Fully Recover for Their Injuries, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, August 9, 2017.

State Appellate Court Recognizes Wrongful Birth Lawsuit, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, July 5, 2017.