When an Outdated Design Finally Needs to be Put to Bed:
The Government’s “State of the Art” Defense in Road Design Cases

IV. Strategies for Addressing the “State of the Art” Defense
D. Expert Witnesses

A licensed engineer can help explain how the current design could have prevented the accident and the design history of the highway. A credible expert who can clearly explain the engineering standards used at the accident site and how current standards would have prevented the plaintiff’s injury can greatly assist the plaintiff’s case. The expert can also look over the work orders produced by MHTC to show the work performed by MHTC goes beyond mere routine maintenance. The expert may be able to explain that the work not only modified the highway, but MHTC could have easily implemented the current design standards with little cost to the State. Use of experts will increase the cost of the plaintiff’s case. The testimony, however, is essential to establishing liability and taking on the “state of the art” defense. Ultimately, counsel for plaintiff will have to assess the plaintiff’s injuries to decide if the case warrants hiring an expert. This is especially true given the caps on recovery against a governmental entity.60

60 537.610, RSMo.
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C. Discovery Plan
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E. Missouri Department of Transportation Employees

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