Understanding the Daubert Standard: Its Impact on Personal Injury Cases in Texas

In the realm of personal injury law, the admissibility of expert witness testimony can make or break a case. This is where the Daubert Standard comes into play. Named after the landmark Supreme Court case Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., the Daubert Standard sets the criteria for determining the reliability and relevance of expert testimony in federal courts and, by extension, many state courts, including Texas.

What is the Daubert Standard?

The Daubert Standard stems from a 1993 U.S. Supreme Court decision that established a framework for judges to evaluate whether an expert’s scientific testimony is based on scientifically valid reasoning and methodology. Prior to Daubert, the admissibility of expert testimony was guided by the Frye Standard, which focused on whether the expert’s methods were generally accepted by the relevant scientific community.

Under the Daubert Standard, a judge must consider several factors:

  1. Testability: Can the theory or technique be tested, and has it been tested?
  2. Peer Review and Publication: Has the theory or technique been subjected to peer review and publication?
  3. Error Rate: What is the known or potential error rate of the technique or theory?
  4. Standards and Controls: Are there standards controlling the technique’s operation?
  5. General Acceptance: Has the theory or technique gained widespread acceptance within the relevant scientific community?

The Daubert Standard in Texas Personal Injury Law

Texas courts have adopted the Daubert Standard through Rule 702 of the Texas Rules of Evidence. This has significant implications for personal injury cases, as expert testimony is often crucial in establishing elements like causation, the extent of injuries, and future medical needs.

How the Daubert Standard Affects Personal Injury Cases

  1. Stricter Scrutiny of Expert Witnesses: Personal injury attorneys must ensure that their expert witnesses can withstand rigorous examination under the Daubert criteria. This means choosing experts with solid credentials and methodologies that meet scientific scrutiny.
  2. Increased Costs: Preparing an expert to meet the Daubert Standard can be costly, as it may require extensive documentation and validation of their methods.
  3. Pre-Trial Hearings: Judges may hold pre-trial Daubert hearings to determine the admissibility of expert testimony. These hearings can be pivotal, as excluding a key expert’s testimony can drastically weaken a plaintiff’s case.

Examples of Daubert Challenges in Texas Personal Injury Cases

Tips for Personal Injury Plaintiffs

  1. Select Reputable Experts: Work with your attorney to choose expert witnesses with impeccable credentials and a history of peer-reviewed publications.
  2. Prepare Thoroughly: Ensure that your experts are well-prepared to explain and defend their methodologies.
  3. Understand the Process: Familiarize yourself with the Daubert criteria to understand how it might affect your case.


The Daubert Standard plays a critical role in Texas personal injury law, ensuring that only scientifically valid expert testimony is presented in court. By understanding this standard and preparing accordingly, plaintiffs can strengthen their cases and improve their chances of a favorable outcome.

For more information on the Daubert Standard and its application in Texas, visit the Texas Judicial Branch and the National Institute of Justice.