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New Mexico Personal Injury Plaintiff Defeats Summary Judgment Motion Although His Medical Expert Was Not Timely Disclosed

On Behalf of | Dec 10, 2020 | Personal Injury

Courts set deadlines for discovery as part of the process of advancing New Mexico personal injury cases towards trial.  Sometimes deadlines are missed.  In a recent case brought following a car accident that occurred in San Juan County, the parties were court ordered to disclose experts by March 13, 2020. The court set a discovery deadline of April 13, 2020.  On April 14, 2020 – the day after the close of discovery – the defendant moved the court for summary judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56.  The basis for the defendant’s motion was that the plaintiff was unable to prove causation without a timely disclosed expert witness.  The stakes were high for the plaintiff.  Had the court granted summary judgment to the defendant, the plaintiff would have lost the case on paper and not had the opportunity to present it at trial.

The court denied the plaintiff the opportunity to extend the deadline, after the deadline had passed.  But the court did not grant summary judgment to the defendant due to the lack of a timely disclosed medical expert.

The record before the court, which the parties had presented in the context of the summary judgment motion, included the plaintiff’s testimony that he had experienced no lower back problems prior to the car accident.  He stated that he suffered from “lower back/Hip [injury]; Aggravation of Hernia” following the accident.  The record also showed that the plaintiff visited a hospital on the day of the accident, and had four more hospital or urgent care visits within two months of accident.  The accident was listed as the reason for all five visits.

The defendant countered with medical records from the two years following the accident, showing a slow recovery and lack of symptoms from the car accident.  The defendant also came forward with a medical expert willing to testify that the car accident was not the cause of the plaintiff’s condition.

In assessing whether to grant or deny summary judgment to the defendant, the court observed that the record and reasonable inferences that can be drawn from the record are to be drawn in favor of the party opposing summary judgment.  The court also observed that it is not the role of the court, at the summary judgment stage, to weigh evidence or make determinations of credibility.  The court denied the defendant’s summary judgment motion.  Among the court’s considerations was that the plaintiff’s testimony could help establish the plaintiff’s case at trial, and that the defendant had not come forward with an alternative explanation for the cause of the plaintiff’s back problems.

If you, a family member, or other loved one has been injured in an accident, you may be entitled to receive a monetary damages award.  Being compensated monetarily for personal injury damages can help people and their families recover out-of-pocket costs including lost wages and medical bills. The legal process for obtaining a monetary damages award can be complex.  To understand more about your case and how it can be pursued to maximize your financial recovery, call New Mexico personal injury lawyer Matthew Vance. At the Law Office of Matthew Vance, P.C., we provide a free consultation and can be reached at 505-445-1604 or send us a message online.