Earlier this month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a Florida car accident case illustrating when certain types of damages are appropriate. The case presented the court with the opportunity to discuss a jury’s verdict that awarded a plaintiff compensation for both future medical expenses as well as lost wages. However, the court concluded that the jury’s verdict insofar as it related to the plaintiff’s lost wages was contrary to the evidence.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was involved in a car accident with the defendant. The defendant admitted that he was responsible for causing the accident, but he argued that the plaintiff’s injuries were not caused by the accident. Thus, the case went to trial on the issue of damages only.
The jury heard evidence from the plaintiff’s expert witness, who testified that the plaintiff would need palliative care. The expert also recommended that the plaintiff undergo a cervical surgery to improve her quality of life. Depending on how the cervical surgery went, the plaintiff may also need a lumbar surgery, although it was too early to tell if such a surgery would be needed. The expert estimated that the costs were as follows:
- Palliative care: $525,000 – $850,000
- Cervical surgery: $90,000 – $120,000
- Lumbar surgery: $60,000 – $90,000
The plaintiff also claimed that she was entitled to compensation for her lost wages. The plaintiff testified that she feared she would lose her job as a result of her injuries; however, the plaintiff did not present any evidence showing that her ability to perform her job was affected by her injuries.
The jury awarded the plaintiff $353,100 in compensation after the trial. The jury did not specify how much of the award was for lost wages and how much was designated for the plaintiff’s future medical expenses. The defendant appealed the jury’s verdict, arguing that the entire award was speculative.
The Court’s Opinion
The court split the jury’s verdict, finding that the plaintiff presented sufficient evidence of her future medical expenses but not her lost wages claim. The court explained that to support a jury’s verdict, the evidence of the future damages must be “reasonably certain.” Here, the court concluded that the evidence for the plaintiff’s future medical expenses was reasonably certain, despite the expert not knowing which surgeries the plaintiff will need, since the award amount was within the estimate for palliative care alone. Thus, even if the plaintiff did not need the lumbar surgery, the jury’s award amount was still proper.
The court, however, rejected the jury’s lost wages award, finding that the evidence was speculative. The court noted that the only evidence of this claim was the plaintiff’s testimony that she was afraid she would lose her job. This, the court explained, was based not on facts presented but only on the plaintiff’s subjective fear. Thus, the court reversed the jury’s lost wages award.
Have You Been Injured in a Florida Car Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a South Florida car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated Florida personal injury attorneys at the law firm of Friedman, Rodman & Frank have extensive experience handling all types of Florida car accident claims, including those involving a need for serious future medical procedures. To learn more, call 877-448-8585 to schedule your free consultation.
More Blog Posts:
Court Rejects Plaintiff’s Medical Malpractice Case Against Pharmacy Following Medication Error, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published December 26, 2017.
Court Finds Question of Whether Defendant Had Knowledge of Dangerous Condition Was a Matter for the Jury, Rejecting Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published January 5, 2018.