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Expert testimony is generally required to establish causal connection. This general rule is in place because the cause and effect of a physical condition lies in a field of knowledge in which only a medical expert can give a competent opinion. Having said that, such expert testimony is not always necessary to establish medical causation. Expert testimony is not required when the issue of causation is within the understanding of a lay person. In determining whether an expert is required, or whether exceptional circumstances exist, New Mexico trial courts utilize a reasonableness standard; that is, a plaintiff is required to produce an expert when the trial court reasonably decides that it is necessary to properly inform the jurors on the issues.
Employees of Defendant Access Auto Recovery, LLC, repossessed Plaintiff's car. Plaintiff Tiar Duke sued various Defendants namely Adrian Garcia and Benjamin Chavez, a Rio Rancho Police Officer, Automobile Acceptance Corporation; Access Auto Recovery, LLC; and Gustavo Soto, on a number of claims revolving around the repossession of her car. Plaintiff alleged that defendants caused her to injure her foot during the repossession. Defendants contend that plaintiff cannot demonstrate causation in regard to the alleged injury because she failed to designate an expert witness on the subject.
Was the defendant’s contention that plaintiff cannot demonstrate causation for failure to designate an expert witness on the subject, correct?
Yes. The court agreed and granted the motions.
The court held that given the uncertainty and complexity surrounding plaintiff's alleged injury, this is not an exceptional circumstance where medical causation is within common experience or knowledge of the layman. Also, as plaintiff has not designated an expert before the deadline, the Court granted defendant’s summary judgment on the issue of medical causation. Further, since plaintiff will not be able to establish that defendants caused injury to her foot, she will not be allowed to recover any damages relating to that injury.