Recently, the Supreme Court of Georgia issued a decision discussing whether a trial court could exclude an expert witness because they were identified after the discovery deadline. The issue on appeal arose after the plaintiff, a world-renowned high jumper, suffered serious injuries in a car accident. After the defendant admitted fault, the plaintiff filed a Georgia personal injury lawsuit requesting damages for pain and suffering, medical expenses, and other relief the trial court found appropriate. During pretrial proceedings, the trial court set May 12th as the scheduling, discovery, and case management deadline.
In response to the complaint, the defendant asked the plaintiff to identify any expert witnesses that could attest to the plaintiff’s loss of future earnings. On the last day for identifying witnesses, the plaintiff supplemented his discovery response and presented an additional expert witness. About one month after the scheduling deadline, the defendant notified the plaintiff that he planned to call a rebuttal witness. The trial court excluded the defendant’s witness because he was not named by the May 12th deadline. On appeal, the defendant argued that he did not learn of the witness until the last day of the discovery deadline, and therefore his rebuttal witness should not be excluded.
In Georgia civil cases, the court generally cannot exclude an expert witness solely because they were identified after the court’s deadlines. Trial courts should consider various factors to determine whether expert witness exclusion is appropriate. The main factors include, the reason for the failure to timely disclose the witness, the importance of the expert’s testimony, the prejudice to the opposing party if the witness is allowed to testify, and whether there is an alternative remedy than the exclusion of the witness.
In this case, the appellate court found that the trial court excluded the rebuttal witness solely because of the defendant’s late identification. Further, they found that the exclusion was unduly harmful to the defendant because the plaintiff was able to point to the unrebutted testimony during closing arguments. Ultimately, the court found that the trial court abused its’ discretion in excluding the witness.
This case illustrates the discretionary power that Georgia trial courts possess in personal accident lawsuits. As a result, it is crucial that car accident victims abide by all deadlines to ensure that their claim does not face dismissal or an avoidable ruling in the other party’s favor.
Have You Suffered Injuries in a Georgia Car Accident?
If you or someone you know has suffered serious injuries in a Georgia car accident, contact the attorneys at McAleer Law for immediate assistance. The Atlanta personal injury attorneys at our firm have successfully represented countless Georgia injury victims, recovering significant damages awards. Compensation in Georgia injury cases often includes payments for lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, psychological treatment, and loss of companionship. Our attorneys always provide clients with compassion and personalized and diligent attention. We have access to valuable resources such as paralegals, case managers, and expert witnesses. Contact our law firm at 404-622-5337 to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney at our law firm.