Florida Supreme Court Orders Return to Daubert Evidentiary Standard
In order to demonstrate liability in civil cases, plaintiffs in Florida must submit evidence to the judge or jury that is both convincing and satisfies the necessary evidentiary standards. In prior years, the threshold that plaintiffs needed to meet was known as the Frye standard, or the general acceptance test, but after the findings of the state supreme court this year, courts across Florida will now be required to satisfy the much more difficult Daubert standard. To learn more about how this change could affect your own case, please contact an experienced Florida personal injury lawyer who is well-versed in state law and can explain your legal options.
What is the Daubert Standard?
The Frye standard was used almost on a universal basis by courts across the country beginning in 1923. Also referred to as the general acceptance test, this standard allows expert opinions on scientific techniques to be admitted into evidence as long as those techniques are generally accepted by the scientific community.The Daubert standard, on the other hand, was established decades after the Frye test in 1993 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that going forward, the admissibility of expert witness testimony would be decided using a three part test that asks whether:
- The evidence in question is based on adequate data or facts;
- The evidence in question was produced with reliable scientific principles and methods; and
- The expert witness testifying in court properly applied the reliable scientific methods to the case at hand.
This test, also known as the Daubert standard, is used in all federal court cases and in most state courts. In fact, the Daubert standard was adopted by the Florida Legislature in 2013, although this test was still mostly used by lower courts, while the state supreme court continued to utilize the Frye test. The Florida Supreme Court refrained from issuing a ruling on whether the change made by Florida’s lawmakers was constitutional until 2017 when it officially declined to adopt the Daubert standard. This changed earlier in the year when the Supreme Court overturned its earlier ruling, ultimately adopting the amendments made by state lawmakers and implementing a standard that is consistent with those used by the federal courts.
How this Change in Evidentiary Standards Could Affect Your Own Case
The Daubert standard will come into play in a wide range of civil cases, including medical malpractice claims, premises liability cases, and product liability claims. There are both advantages and disadvantages to this change. For instance, the Daubert test requires an in-depth analysis, so it can make the resolution of cases take much longer than usual and can often result in higher expenses for plaintiffs. More expert witnesses, particularly those who have not published peer-reviewed studies, are also more likely to be dismissed under this standard, which means that many qualified individuals will be prohibited from testifying on the behalf of many injured plaintiffs. On the flip side, proponents of this standard argue that it ensures that only true specialists will be permitted to testify during court proceedings.
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