In January 2021, the California Court of Appeal agreed with Booth LLP in ruling that a investigating police officer who was designed as an expert witness was properly permitted to testify concerning the decedent's violation of relevant vehicle codes, and the lack of such violation by the defendant truck driver. In Garcia v. Gray, et. al. (2021 WL 163900, unpublished) the defendant truck driver and the company he worked for were alleged to have been negligent by passing too closely to the decedent bicycle rider on a busy multi-lane street. Defendants were permitted to question the investigating police officer, who had determined the cause of the accident to be the decedent, who turned into traffic after the tractor had passed, but while the trailer was moving parallel to the bicycle. Over multiple objections, the officer was permitted to state his finding of cause and his findings regarding alleged violations of vehicle codes. After a defense verdict was obtained, plaintiffs appealed, challenging the admissibility of the police officer's testimony. The Court of Appeal upheld the verdict, finding that a "police officer trained and experienced in the investigation of traffic accidents may give expert testimony as the facts and
circumstances of an accident based upon his or her inspection of the scene and first-hand analysis of other relevant information." Further, the officer's testimony concerning the precipitating cause of the accident being the unsafe turn by the decedent was proper expert testimony. Regarding the vehicle code violations, the Court of Appeal found that admitting such testimony was within the Trial Court's discretion and did not constitute error.
Partners Hillary Arrow booth and Ian Culver handled the appeal, as well as the trial. For additional information, please contact Hillary Arrow Booth at Hbooth@BoothLLP.com