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Case Allows for Nurse Practitioner to Give Expert Opinion on Injuries

By Jack H. FarnbauchNovember 5, 2017

An Evansville nurse practitioner who has training and licensure beyond that of a nurse, may testify as an expert as to whether a patient’s injuries are consistent with injuries sustained in an automobile accident, but not as to whether the accident caused the injuries, the Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled.

The case that ruled this is Charles Aillones v. Glen D. Minton, 82A01-1609-CT-2138. In the case, a vehicle driven by Glen Minton struck a vehicle driven by Charles Aillones and Aillones injured her back and spine in particular. A nurse practitioner, Alan Swartz treated Aillones for her injuries.

Aillones filed a lawsuit for negligence against Minton in December 2013. Swartz was deposed and testified that Aillones’ injuries were “consistent with a motor vehicle accident.” Minton’s counsel objected to the questioning of Swartz as to the cause of his patient’s injuries because she lacked the medical training that a doctor possesses.  Aillones then moved to qualify Swartz as an expert witness, which the Vanderburgh Superior Court denied and concluded that Swartz could not testify as an expert. 

Aillones appealed the ruling to the Indiana Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s decision based on the fact that Swartz has sufficient “knowledge, skill, expertise, training or education” to testify as an expert witness. The Vanderburgh Superior Court had relied on a similar case in not allowing Swartz as an expert witness, however the case they had relied on was a medical malpractice case. A medical malpractice case provides for a different standard to which an expert witness is held to. The Appeals court held that Swartz’s qualifications were sufficient for a tort action, such as a car accident.

You can read more here.