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Florida Accident Victim Wins Award for Past Pain and Suffering But Not Future Damages

Car accidents can turn your life upside down in an instant. If you have suffered injuries in an auto accident that you believe were caused by someone else’s error or carelessness, we can help you. Our Miami car accident lawyers will look into the cause of your accident and help you recover the damages you need to move on with your life.

Florida car accident cases can be complicated. Last month, a Florida appellate court held that that a jury’s zero-dollar award for the plaintiff’s claim of past non-economic damages was legally inadequate since it was inconsistent with the jury’s conclusion that the plaintiff sustained harm that necessitated medical treatment.

The facts of the case are as follows. After visiting a grocery store, the plaintiff stopped his car at a red light. At that time, the defendant made an illegal left turn into the intersection striking a vehicle, which then hit the plaintiff’s car. The plaintiff did not obtain medical treatment at the scene, and he did not visit a hospital after the wreck.

Several years after the accident, the plaintiff sued the driver of the car and the owner of the car. The plaintiff argued that the driver’s negligence caused the collision and the owner of the car was negligent in entrusting her car to the driver. The vehicle owner conceded that the driver’s conduct constituted negligence and so the trial proceeded only to the question of damages.

During trial, the plaintiff stated that the wreck caused aggravation of an existing back injury as well as causing new neck injuries. The plaintiff said that he went to the physician a few days after the accident and went through a number of MRIs. Once conservative treatment did not work, the plaintiff had to undergo surgery to replace two herniated discs. While the condition got better, he still experienced pain.

The plaintiff’s medical expert opined that the plaintiff’s harm was permanent and that he would probably require surgery in the future. The defendants argued that the plaintiff’s neck and back injuries were pre-existing. The jury concluded that the defendants’ negligence caused the plaintiff’s injuries and gave him an award of $50,000 for past medical costs and $200,000 for future medical costs. However, the jury did not award the plaintiff any past or future non-economic damages. The plaintiff appealed.

On appeal, the court reversed the jury’s zero-dollar award for past non-economic damages but affirmed the decision in regards to not awarding any future economic damages. Examining precedent, the court stated that: i) a zero verdict for past economic damages is inadequate as a matter of law when the trial evidence of the existence of such damages is substantially undisputed and (ii) when the jury finds that the plaintiff sustained injuries that necessitated treatment as shown by an award of past medical costs, a zero award cannot stand. In the case at hand, the jury gave the plaintiff an award for past medical costs and it was, in fact, “substantially undisputed” that the plaintiff sustained an injury to his neck.

When it came to future non-economic damages, however, the court rejected the plaintiff’s claim explaining that the jury had the power on this issue since the evidence of these damages was greatly contested.

If you have been injured in a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you have rights. At the Law Offices of Robert Dixon, our seasoned Miami car accident attorneys understand this area of law in great detail and are committed to helping South Florida clients obtain the compensation they deserve for their harm. For more information, call us at 1-877-499-HURT (4878) or contact us online.