Federal Appellate Court Addresses Expert Testimony Requirement in Recent Product Liability Lawsuit

The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit recently issued an opinion stemming from a tragic Indiana motorcycle accident. According to the court’s opinion, a husband and wife were traveling from Indiana to Salt Lake City, Utah when something punctured their motorcycle tire, causing the tire to deflate rapidly. The husband lost control of the motorcycle, and he crashed into a concrete barrier. The impact caused his wife to fly off the motorcycle as the bike dragged her husband on the highway. Although they were both wearing helmets, they each sustained traumatic brain injuries.

The couple received recall notices for their helmets a few months after the accident. The company that distributed the helmets notified consumers that helmets did not conform to the Department of Transportation standards. The company also warned that the helmet might not protect users in the event of a collision. The couple purchased their helmets two years before the recall from two different sellers. In response to the recall notice, the couple filed a products liability lawsuit against several parties, including the manufacturer of the helmets and the companies that sold the helmets. In their suit against the helmet company, the couple alleged that the accident resulted from a design and manufacturing defect. They also alleged that the company did not comply with federal safety standards and participated in negligent recall practices.

To establish liability in Indiana products liability lawsuits, plaintiffs must be able to prove that a party that manufactures, distributes, or sells a product knew or should have known that a product was unreasonably dangerous, either because of a design or manufacturer defect. The Indiana Products Liability Act requires that plaintiffs produce expert testimony in regards to causation. If a plaintiff cannot establish this crucial element of their claim, the court will grant summary judgment in favor of the defendant.

In this case, the couple argued that the faulty helmets exacerbated their injuries. They produced evidence of the recall and the severity of their injuries. However, they did not comply with the Indiana Products Liability Act because they did not present expert testimony. The law requires that they provide expert testimony to prove the causation element of their lawsuit. The couple did not prove that a defect in their helmet worsened their injury.

Conversely, the defendants not only provided an expert, but their expert opined that their injuries would have been the same even if they were wearing a helmet that complied with all safety standards. The court explained that the couple’s failure to provide an expert witness was fatal to their case. Indiana plaintiffs must comply with the Indiana Products Liability Act and provide an expert witness to prove their case.

Have You Been Injured By a Dangerous or Defective Product?

If you or a loved one suffered injuries because of a defectively designed or manufactured product you should contact Indiana personal injury attorney Burton A. Padove. Attorney Padove handles Indiana products liability lawsuits as well as injury lawsuits arising under Illinois law. He has extensive experiencing navigating the various complexities of products liability lawsuits and can ensure that your case complies with all procedural and evidentiary rules. If you are successful, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for the injuries you sustained.  Contact Attorney Padove today at 877-446-5294 to schedule your free initial consultation.