Daubert Evidence Standard Takes Immediate Effect in Florida

Daubert Evidence Standard Takes Immediate Effect in Florida

For many years, Florida has adhered to the Frye standard for the admission of expert testimony in civil cases. In the wake of a landmark ruling from the new Florida Supreme Court, however, the more widely-accepted Daubert evidence standard has now taken immediate effect.

This ruling represents a significant shift from previous precedent, and it could have unexpected consequences for Florida personal injury cases. At Roman & Gaynor, however, our board-certified trial attorneys are deeply familiar with the differences between Frye and Daubert, and how each standard can affect the overall case strategy before trial.

In this post, we’ll discuss the evolving history of the Frye and Daubert evidence standards, and what this decision might mean for Florida going forward.

Frye and Daubert: Evolving Evidence Admission Standards

In 1923, a D.C. Circuit case titled Frye v. United States would quietly shape the future of evidence admission standards, although no one would have known that at the time. The Circuit’s final decision in Frye found that expert testimony based on a lie detector test could not be considered admissible in court, because its method of measuring systolic blood pressure had “…not yet gained such standing and scientific recognition among physiological and psychological authorities.”

This test became known as the “general acceptance” test, and as in Frye, it means that expert testimony can only be admitted if the underlying scientific method has been accepted by the right academic community. Although it wasn’t consistently applied until the 1970’s, Frye quickly became the only standard in both civil and criminal cases across the country.

By 1993, however, legal scholars had significant disagreements about Frye. Many critics said that it wasn’t clear enough, and that it was not an effective measurement for complex scientific testimony. In Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, that concern was addressed when the Supreme Court overruled Frye at the federal level. Since then, many states have slowly adopted Daubert too – including Florida.

Understanding the Daubert Standard

Although Daubert can be described as an extension of Frye rather than a total revision, there is one very noticeable difference with this approach. Daubert emphasizes that trial judges and juries have a “gatekeeping responsibility,” and it provides dozens of additional factors for the court to consider in a civil or criminal case.

As Florida adjusts to this standard, it could have the practical effect of increasing cross-examination on the stand, requiring attorneys to really grasp the details of the scientific method in question. It also gives the courts broad leeway to determine whether that scientific method has been sufficiently peer-reviewed and studied to be admissible.  

Ready to Fight on Behalf of Injured Floridians

Bringing 60 years of legal experience to the table, our attorneys at Roman & Gaynor will carefully assess all witness testimony when preparing your injury claim. Because we understand the importance of well-vetted experts in scientific matters, we’ve been able to recover over $85 million for our clients and help explain their experiences to the court. Even with the switch to Daubert, we’ll continue to stand apart from the rest, and maximize your chance of receiving compensation.

Call (727) 877-1212 today for a free, no-obligation case evaluation!

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