All parties-comparative fault, plaintiff re injuries, accident reconstruction expert, eyewitnesses and the defense medical expert.

By Walter Simpson

Pattern Cross-Examinations

Excerpted from Pattern Cross-Examinations

§3:62 All Parties: Comparative Fault

Liability

  • Uncontrolled intersection
  • First vehicle in the intersection has the right-of-way
  • If both vehicles enter the intersection at or near the same time, vehicle on the right has the right-of-way
  • No traffic control devises to govern drivers
  • Familiarity with intersection
  • Obstruction to visibility across “critical corner”

Speed

  • Approaching speed
  • Change of speed
  • Distance traveled during recognition of danger and reaction time
  • Distance required to skid to a stop
  • Distance required to slow or swerve

Lookout

  • Duty to keep
  • Duty to avoid collision
  • Recognition of limited visibility across “critical corner”
  • Sight distances at various distances from intersection
  • Photographs of sight distances

§3:63 Plaintiff re: Injuries

  • Causation
  • Released from emergency room
  • No overnight hospital stay
  • Lack of treatment by primary care physician
  • Relatively short period of treatment by orthopedic specialist
  • Refusal of surgery
  • Symptoms from prior injury existing at time of accident

Injury

  • Lack of objective signs of injury at emergency room
  • Previous MRI showing injury to same part of body
  • Incapacitation or lack thereof of plaintiff
  • Description of nature and extent of prior injury
  • Records of prior treatment
  • Time off from work

Treatment

  • None at emergency room
  • None with primary care physician
  • Limited with specialist
  • Chiropractic only
  • Refusal of surgery
  • Time between last treatment and trial

Prior claim

  • Description of injury claimed
  • Extent of injury claimed
  • Amount of money claimed
  • Amount of settlement
  • Same attorney handling prior claim

§3:64 Accident Reconstruction Expert

Qualifications

  • Education
  • Training
  • Employment history
  • Experience

Bias

  • Working relationship with attorney
  • Percentage of cases for plaintiff v. defendant
  • Amount billed for services
  • Retained by plaintiff; paid by plaintiff
  • All case information provided by plaintiff

Visibility

  • Obstruction on “critical corner”
  • Photographs of intersection and sight distances
  • Measurements taken at scene
  • Sight distances
  • Weather conditions

Reconstruction of accident

  • Direction of travel of vehicles
  • Speed of vehicles
  • Determination of which vehicle entered intersection first
  • Calculations of stopping distances
  • Recognition of danger
  • Reaction time
  • Skidding distance
  • Grade
  • Road surface type
  • Road surface condition
  • Test skids
  • Time between accident and reconstruction

§3:65 Eyewitnesses

Bias

  • Relationship with the parties
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Race

Observations

  • What witness claims to have seen
  • Inconsistencies with other evidence
  • Use of photographs
  • Use of measurements
  • Police report—listed as a witness; statement given at scene
  • Prior statements
  • Deposition testimony

Opportunity to observe

  • Location of witness
  • Obstructions to line of sight
  • Length of time to observe
  • Eyesight—glasses
  • Lighting at scene
  • Weather
  • Distractions—kids in car; pedestrians

§3:66 Defendant’s Medical Expert

Qualifications

  • Only sees patients two days per week
  • Has not performed surgery for five years

Bias

  • Relationship with defense counsel
  • Number of cases with defense counsel
  • Consultation with other defense counsel
  • Financial reward for review of cases
  • Earns more from consulting than from seeing patients
  • Has never testified on behalf of an injured party

Basis for opinions

  • Has not examined plaintiff
  • Has not taken a history from the plaintiff
  • MRI before the accident revealed bulging disc
  • No objective evidence that disc herniation was present before accident
  • MRI after accident revealed herniation
  • A minimal herniation is still a rupture of the wall of the disc
  • It is more probable that a twisting motion caused the herniation
  • When he was performing surgery, he operated on herniated discs

Walter R. Simpson has been litigating personal injury cases, representing both plaintiffs and defendants, since his graduation from the University of Missouri at Kansas City Law School in 1967. He has tried more than 200 jury trials and has been a frequent speaker at CLE Seminars. In 1974 Mr. Simpson was recognized by the Missouri Bar Foundation as the outstanding young trial lawyer in the Greater Kansas City Metropolitan area and was presented with the Lon O. Hocker Trial Lawyer Award. In 2001, the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association presented Mr. Simpson with the Dean of the Trial Bar Award, in recognition of 34 years as an outstanding litigator.

Mr. Simpson has served as President of the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association and President of the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Foundation. He is currently a member of the Board of Governors of the Missouri Bar Association.   He has been included in The Best Lawyers in America, published by Woodward/White, Inc., continuously since 1997 and has held a Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Rating of AV, the highest possible rating for Legal Ability & Ethical Standards, for thirty years.