Beware of “Painted Lady” Pseudoscience Experts in the Courtroom

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Oftentimes, when a plaintiff brings a claim for injuries sustained in an automobile accident, the insurance company—in its quest to delay, deny, and defend the payment of claims—will hire a “painted lady” defense expert to come to court with the purpose of undermining the claim. This seeming expert will use junk science in an attempt to prove that the victim is a malingerer who could not possibly have sustained such an injury in the accident. And the defense attorney will, in turn, use the “expert’s” false testimony to portray the plaintiff as an unprincipled person whose true motivation is money.

After close to three and a half decades as a Philadelphia trial lawyer specializing in automobile and trucking accident cases, I have come to the conclusion that the best way for a plaintiff’s attorney to counter such “painted lady” experts is to use lay witnesses—physics teachers, driving instructors, clergy members, neighbors, and the like—to attest to the honesty and integrity of the victim. I have found that these lay witnesses can win cases and spare clients the need to waste money fighting spurious claims.

I recently had a conversation with a defense lawyer and an insurance adjuster in an automobile case where this occurred. When I reviewed the background of the so-called expert retained by the insurance company, I learned that he had earned millions of dollars over the years representing this company in similar cases.

Experienced Trial Attorneys Can Challenge Use of a False Expert

Many lawyers make the mistake of using such “painted lady” experts to manipulate scientific data and discredit experts, theories of liability, and plaintiff’s testimony. But a skilled and experienced trial attorney can effectively combat junk science at the beginning of the trial, when it is in the voir dire stage, by arming the testifying plaintiff and the plaintiff’s liability and medical experts.

In Federal Court, the attorney can challenge the use of a false expert, before or after a trial, by means of a Daubert motion which keeps pseudoscience and unsubstantiated evidence from being presented to the jury. The Daubert rule holds that a judge may exclude expert testimony when there are gaps in the evidence used by the expert to draw a conclusion. A conclusion will only qualify as scientific knowledge if a proponent can demonstrate that it is a product of “scientific methodology derived from scientific methods.”

Though Daubert law remains a Federal Court standard, more than half of all United States jurisdictions have at their disposal a comparable standard, the Frye standard, for challenging expert testimony. Pennsylvania, fortunately, is a Frye jurisdiction. The Frye standard provides that expert opinion based on scientific technique is only admissible if the techniques used are generally accepted as reliable in the scientific community.

An experienced car accident and trucking lawyer should always be armed with the understanding and knowledge necessary to aggressively challenge “painted lady” pseudo-experts who espouse false claims to undermine justice.

Don’t Let Your Claim Be Undermined – Contact a Philadelphia Auto Accident Lawyer That Can Fight For You

The car and trucking accident attorneys at The Reiff Law Firm have been recognized by their peers as having the highest possible rating in both legal abilities and ethical standards. They are consistently recognized as Pennsylvania Super Lawyers and are members of the National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial Attorneys. They have the knowledge, skill, and experience to give car and truck accident victims a fair chance by keeping false testimony out of the courtroom.

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