OR Case Update: Low Impact Accidents: Can Biomechanical Engineers Testify?

From the desk of Jeffrey D. Eberhard: Biomechanical engineers study the physics and mechanics of human biological material, including how much force it takes to cause a failure in bone and other human tissue. Biomechanical engineer testimony is often helpful in personal injury cases, especially low-impact auto accidents. However, some states do not allow biomechanical engineers to testify as experts. While Oregon trial courts have allowed biomechanical engineers, such as Bradley Probst, to testify as experts, the matter has only recently been decided at the appellate level. Read on to see how the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled when asked to consider whether a biomechanical engineer can offer an expert opinion as to whether a car accident could have caused a plaintiff’s injuries.these questions.

Claims Pointer: In this case, the Oregon Court of Appeals upheld a trial court ruling that biomechanical engineer, Bradley Probst was qualified to testify as an expert and that his methodology scientifically valid. Even though Probst only examined photos of the cars involved in the accident and the plaintiff’s medical records, his testimony was still admissible expert opinion. Furthermore, even though Probst was not a registered engineer, that fact alone did not bar him from testifying.

Durette v. Virgil, 272 Or App 545 (July 22, 2015)

Cindy Durette was on the way to the Oregon Coast when her car was rear-ended while stopped at a red light. Durette did not experience any pain immediately after the accident, but by the following day, she was experiencing back and neck pain. Durette sought chiropractic treatment shortly thereafter for headaches, neck and back pain, pain in her right arm, blurred vision, and balance problems. Plaintiff had been treated for neck and back pain off and on since the 1990s. Durette had been involved in another accident in 2004 which caused her back and neck pain until 8 months before being rear-ended. Durette sued the driver of the other car,...

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