Oregon Case Update: Oregon Court of Appeals Issues Decision on Expert Witness Qualifications
From the Desk of Ryan McLellan: Can a chiropractor qualify as an expert in the areas of biomechanical engineering and accident reconstruction? Read on to see how courts analyze the expert’s knowledge, skill, experience, training, and education to determine if the expert is qualified to testify in their respective field.
Claims Pointer: In this case arising out of an automobile accident, plaintiff offered a chiropractor to testify as an expert on issues relating to biomechanical engineering and accident reconstruction. The Oregon Court of Appeals reviewed the expert’s qualifications and found that the expert’s certifications, hours of training, and previous expert qualifications were “more than sufficient to qualify him as an expert” in those fields under OEC 702.
Mall v. Horton, 273 Or App 319 (June 6, 2018).
Plaintiff Sukhdev Mall (“Plaintiff”) was injured when his car was struck by a pickup truck driven by Defendant Andrew Horton (“Defendant”). Plaintiff filed suit for injuries alleged to be caused by the accident. Before trial, the court held a hearing to determine whether Plaintiff’s expert witness, Dr. Jonathan McClaren, a chiropractor by profession, was qualified to testify as an expert in biomechanical engineering and accident reconstruction.
The trial court first considered Dr. McClaren’s credentials with respect to biomechanical engineering. At the hearing, Dr. McClaren testified that he held a certification in “spinal biomechanical engineering, along with an advanced certification in whiplash biomechanics and injury traumatology.” The certifications required several online courses and in-person courses. Dr. McClaren testified that he had not published or taught any courses on the subject, but was previously qualified to testify in Washington County as an expert on biomechanical engineering. The trial court determined...