During any personal injury trial, each party can request a directed verdict in their respective favor after the completion of the presentation of evidence. The moving party asserts that no reasonable jury could reach a different conclusion based on the evidence presented. A directed verdict was the focus of a recent First District Court of Appeal decision, Haney v. Sloan (Case No. 1D15-3905). This case originated from a car accident. The injured party sought chiropractic and pain management care and had a spinal fusion on her neck. The injured party’s health improved, but she then suffered additional injuries in another unrelated accident. The injured woman had chiropractor and pain management care, but she was diagnosed with temporomandibular joint condition (TMJ).
The injured party sued the alleged at-fault party in the car accident. The defendant in the car accident admitted liability related to the neck injury but denied that she caused the other conditions suffered by the injured woman. The case went to trial, where the defendant argued the medical problems were caused by the second accident. The plaintiff moved for a directed verdict for damages related to past medical expenses, incurred both before and after the second accident. The injured woman, in support of her motion, argued that the jury could not conclude any of the injuries were the result of the second accident, based on the evidence presented. The court granted the motion and advised the past medical expenses were assigned to the first accident caused by the defendant. At the end of the trial, the injured woman’s argument for future damages centered around the idea that the defendant solely caused all of the plaintiff’s injuries. The jury returned a verdict of over $1.6 million.
If there is more than one accident involving separate tortfeasors (alleged at-fault parties) but only one defendant, a jury is tasked with figuring out which injuries were results of the first accident and which were results of the second. If the jury cannot decide, they must conclude that the first tortfeasor is responsible for all of the injuries. The Court of Appeal felt the evidence presented by the parties’ medical experts was problematic. Both the plaintiff’s and the defendant’s experts opined that some of the pain and treatment, at least for a time period, stemmed from the second accident. Since the jury could have concluded that some of the expenses incurred stemmed from the second accident, the appellate court determined that the directed verdict was improper. The $1.6 million verdict was reversed and the case remanded to the trial court for a new trial.
The car accident attorneys at Donaldson & Weston will tirelessly fight to maximize the damages you deserve. Our office appreciates that each complexity associated with the case must be handled with care, and we will diligently pursue all avenues of legal relief. Contact our office today at at 772-266-5555 (Stuart) or 561-299-3999 (West Palm Beach) for a free, confidential consultation.
More Blog Posts:
Florida District Appellate Court Reviews Future Medical Expenses in Multi-Car Accident Case, Florida Injury Lawyer Blog, November 28, 2016
Federal Circuit Court of Appeal Declines to Find Equitable Tolling in Slip and Fall Case, Florida Injury Lawyer Blog, October 21, 2016