Court Discusses Pain and Suffering Damages in Florida Personal Injury Lawsuit

Recently, a Florida appellate court issued an opinion in a plaintiff’s appeal of a jury’s finding that she did not suffer permanent injury and was not entitled to pain and suffering damages.

The case arose after the defendant struck the plaintiff’s car as she was exiting the highway. According to the court’s opinion, at trial, the plaintiff, claimed that her emergency room doctor referred her to a treating chiropractor. However, the defendant introduced evidence that the plaintiff’s attorney referred her to her treating chiropractor. The jury returned a verdict awarding no damages for pain and suffering. The plaintiff appealed.

On appeal, the plaintiff contended that the trial court erred in allowing the defendant to argue that there was a referral relationship between the plaintiff’s attorney and chiropractor, resulting in a jury finding she was not entitled to pain and suffering damages.

Under Florida law, there are generally three types of damages available to personal injury plaintiffs, economic, non-economic, and punitive damages. Economic damages are losses where there is an easily quantifiable monetary loss. For example, these damages generally include medical expenses, lost employment income, and property damages. Non-economic damages are a bit more challenging to quantify and are subjective. These damages include losses related to mental anguish, diminished quality of life, and physical pain and suffering. Punitive damages are designed to address cases where the defendant acted in a particularly egregious manner. The law reserves these damages for specific cases, typically lawsuits involving intentional infliction of harm or recklessness.

In calculating non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, courts will examine several factors. These factors include the severity of the victim’s injuries or losses, their medical outlook and potential future treatment, the plaintiff’s age and whether they had any preexisting medical conditions, and the plaintiff’s economic loss. Determining the appropriate amount of non-economic damages is often complicated and involves presenting a compelling case that includes assigning a specific monetary value to a subjective loss.

Plaintiffs should present evidence to support their claim for pain and suffering damages. Some common examples of this evidence are doctor’s opinions regarding the impact of the injury on the plaintiff, prescription history, testimony from loved ones, a mental health professional’s testimony, and personal testimony from the victim. In addition, some attorneys use the “multiplier method,” which involves an attorney assigning the plaintiff’s injury a number between 1.5 to 5, and multiplying that number by the plaintiff’s economic cost of addressing the injury.

In this case above, the plaintiff introduced evidence of pain and suffering through her treating chiropractor. However, she also presented conflicting testimony regarding who referred her. The defense used this information to attack her credibility and diminish her entitlement to pain and suffering damages. The court ultimately found that because the plaintiff opened the door by addressing the referral, the defense attorney’s challenge was proper. Therefore, the court conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in allowing the defendant’s credibility argument.

Have You Suffered Injuries in a Florida Accident?

If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in a Florida car accident because of another’s negligence, you should contact the attorneys at Friedman, Rodman, Frank, and Estrada. The attorneys at our law firm have extensive experience handling complex personal injury lawsuits stemming from all types of accidents, such as car and truck accidents, defective products, nursing home abuse and neglect, and slip-and-falls. Our skilled attorneys have the knowledge, resources, and experience to handle the challenges that these cases often present. Contact our office at 877-448-8585 to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney at our firm.

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