Your father lives in an apartment. Say it’s located in Fair Lawn, New Jersey. One day, you visit him.
Near your father’s apartment, there are two driveways. There is a stepdown of about 12 inches between the driveways. In other words, one driveway is a foot lower than the other one.
You arrive. It’s a beautiful day. Your father is already outside waiting for you outside.
He walks toward your car to greet you.
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But your father doesn’t make it. When he reaches the stepdown between the driveways, he trips and falls. He is severely hurt.
An ambulance takes your dad to the hospital. He is admitted and spends a week there.
After that, he spends four more weeks in a rehabilitation facility. Five weeks after the accident, dad finally returns to his Fair Lawn home.
INJURY ATTORNEY FILES LAWSUIT
In the meantime, you hire an injury attorney to get dad compensation for his pain and suffering. The injury lawyer sues the property owner.
However, the lawyer for the owner asks the trial judge to dismiss the case without a trial. The defense lawyer claims that your father’s injury attorney failed to hire an expert witness. Without such an expert, the defense lawyer claims, the injury lawyer can’t prove that the design of the driveway was faulty.
TRIAL JUDGE DISMISSES CASE FOR LACK OF EXPERT WITNESS
The trial judge agrees with the defense lawyer and boots the case out of court.
Don’t worry, though. Your injury lawyer appeals. He points out to the appeals judges that he is not claiming that an architect negligently designed the driveway. Rather, the claim is that the difference in height between the driveways was an obvious defect. So obvious, in fact, that you don’t need an “expert” to tell a jury that the owner should have fixed the problem before someone got hurt.
APPEALS COURT SAYS NO EXPERT NEEDED
Fortunately for dad, the appeals judges agree with the injury lawyer. Your father will get a fair trial. He can still obtain compensation.
IF YOUR FAMILY MEMBER HAS AN ACCIDENT
This story is loosely based on a real New Jersey court case. It’s not always clear to an inexperienced lawyer when an expert witness is necessary. If you need an injury lawyer, make sure to hire one with many years of experience.