SW Legal studies in Business

Expert Witness Not Required to Prove Injury Observable to Average Person
Description Appeals court held that in a slip-and-fall case, in which injuries were claimed, the plaintiff need not have expert testimony to establish the injuries she may have suffered that would be observable by an average person. She would need expert testimony to establish claimed permanent damage.
Topic Court Procedure
Key Words Evidence; Expert Testimony; Ordinary Experience
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Dodge worked at a building where ACS provided janitorial services, including floor cleaning. One day when Dodge was leaving work, she slipped on the floor and claimed she suffered knee, ankle and back injuries, including a permanent deformity to her ankle. She sued ACS for negligence. The district court dismissed her suit, ruling that a layperson is not permitted to provide opinions on the causation of medical conditions. Dodge appealed.

Reversed in part. "Although the admission of layperson opinion testimony is usually within the discretion of the district court, the general rule in Idaho is that a layperson is not permitted to testify regarding the cause of a medical conditions. The limitation applies, however only where the subject matter regarding the cause of disease, injury or death of a person is wholly scientific or so far removed from the usual and ordinary experience of the average person that expert knowledge is essential to the formation of an intelligent opinion. When alleged injuries are of a common nature and arise from a readily identifiable cause, there is no need for the injured party to produce expert testimony." Hence, Dodge did not need expert testimony as to the fact that she slipped and fell and suffered certain injuries on the spot; that is within ordinary experience. She would have to provide expert testimony as to the permanent ankle deformity.

Citation Dodge-Farrar v. American Cleaning Services Co., 2002 WL 31016513 (Ct. App., Idaho, 2002)

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