5 Star Inc. v. Ford Motor Company – SC Supreme Court on Expert Witness in Automobile Manufacturing

South Carolina car accident lawyers pay special attention to court opinions involving the use of expert witnesses at trial. In 5 Star Inc. v. Ford Motor Company, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled on whether an expert in electrical engineering and fire causation could testify about whether the defendant, Ford Motor Company, acted negligently. In this case, the plaintiff alleged that a Ford truck caught fire because of a negligently designed speed control deactivation switch. The plaintiff’s expert had extensive experience in electrical engineering of automobiles. The South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that the plaintiff’s expert had sufficient training, education, and experience to testify as to whether Ford Motor Company had breached its duty of care owed to the plaintiff.

fire-engine.jpgCar accident lawsuits, as well as most personal injury cases, deal with the legal theory of negligence. In any negligence action, the plaintiff must prove certain elements. The defendant must have owed a duty of a care to the plaintiff, the defendant breached his or duty of care toward the plaintiff, the breach of duty caused an foreseeable injury to person or property, and that the injury resulted in damages (harm suffered) to the plaintiff.

Often, the two most important issues to South Carolina lawyers who handle car accident cases, are whether the defendant breached his or her duty of care, and, if a breach occurred, how much harm (damages) was suffered by the plaintiff. In many cases, the question of whether a defendant breached his or her duty of care is a simple one. For example, if you are parked at red light and another car hits you from behind, it is obvious that the driver who hit you is at fault. At fault is another way of saying that this driver was negligent because he or she breached a duty of care owed to you.

However, it some cases, proving a breach of the duty of care may not be so easy. Let us assume that you are driving down the road and another car’s wheel comes off and blocks your path of travel. You swerve to avoid the wheel, hit a telephone pole, and suffer a serious injury. In this example, the driver whose wheel came off was in a new car. Whose fault is it that the wheel fell off and caused an accident? There are many possible causes, and in order to win your case at trial, your attorney may need to consult one more experts to determine the exact reason the wheel fell off, and possibly have that expert testify at trial.

Much like the 5 Star Inc. v. Ford Motor Company case discussed above, there is often a lot of litigation about whether a particular person is qualified to testify on a given topic. This is a complicated issue that can affect a car accident case. Every situation is different and you should speak with your attorney about the use of experts at trial.

If you have been injured a car accident Spartanburg, contact the Lee Law Offices at 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:

5 Star Inc. v. Ford Motor Company, June 11, 2014, South Carolina Supreme Court

More blog entries:

Dangerous Vehicles, Defective Parts, Can Cause Charlotte Crashes, Feb. 21, 2014, North Carolina Car Accident Lawyer’s Blog

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