Boston Car Accident Trial Judge Makes Mistake

The Massachusetts Appeals Court, sitting in Boston, recently ordered a new trial be held in a car accident case where the plaintiff suffered significant personal injuries. The Appeals Court ordered a new trial because the lower Court judge erred in allowing expert testimony from a police officer. The Boston car accident attorneys at the Law Office of Neil Burns always stay current on car accident cases and trials happening in Massachusetts because we understand that aggressive representation must include the ability to try cases as necessary.

This is a case which involved a single car accident. The plaintiff says that the defendant failed to fully stop at a stop sign causing the plaintiff to swerve out of the way and to hit a tree. At trial, the defendant called the police officer that responded to the scene. The plaintiff claimed that because he was not qualified or trained in accident reconstruction, he should not be allowed to testify to any opinion as to how the accident happened. In particular, the officer did not have expertise to determine the speed of a vehicle he did not see moving. Further, he should not be allowed to say that a bald tire was a cause of the accident without explaining how this was so.
Of significance, the Appeals Court looked at the jury’s verdict. It determined that the plaintiff was fifteen percent more responsible than the defendant. See Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 231, Section 85. Given that, the Court determined that the appearance of the police officer as an expert could have tipped the scales. Wherefore, the Appeals Court sent the case back to the trial court for a new trial.
The case is cited as: Peterson v. Foley (Appeals Court) Case tried before Dortch-Okara, J., in Superior Court. (Docket No. 09-P-990) (Aug. 12, 2010).