Personal injury lawsuits must prove four things: that there was a duty created by statute or case law and that the at-fault party was obligated by the duty, that the at-fault party failed to uphold that duty, that injuries resulted from this failure, and that a certain amount of damages were incurred from the injury. While it is essential to prove the first three elements in order to obtain monetary damages, it is equally important to provide thorough proof of the damages. Amounts already incurred are relatively easy to prove with invoices and receipts of payment. Future damages, however, must be shown through expert testimony to be reasonably certain.
The trickiness of this task can be seen in GEICO v. Isaacs (No. 4D15-2263). In this case, a woman filed suit against her insurance company for uninsured benefits, including past and future medical expenses and pain and suffering. A jury awarded $750,000 for medical expenses and pain and suffering. $360,000 of these damages were designated as the future medical expenses award. The insurer moved for the damages to be reduced, claiming the award was excessive.
The Fourth District Court of Appeal first established that for a jury to determine whether medical expenses are reasonably certain to be incurred, there must be an evidentiary basis for the jury to use in its determination. If an expert’s testimony or evidence only indicate that a treatment might occur, future medical expenses cannot be awarded. One of the injured woman’s treating physicians testified that she would have up to $2,000 in future medical expenses a year and potentially a shoulder surgery that would cost $40,000-$50,000 a year. However, the appellate court pointed out there was no testimony about the injured driver’s life expectancy to aid the jury in calculating the future medical expenses of $2,000 a year. The court ruled that absent this testimony, the award exceeded what the evidence revealed. Rather than determining a reduction, the appellate court remanded the case back to the trial court. Once there, the court must have a new trial only on the issue of the injured driver’s life expectancy.
The award for the future medical expenses covering the shoulder surgery was affirmed in addition to the other amounts awarded, minus the remittitur issued on the other amounts.
The Florida car accident attorneys at Donaldson & Weston have the experience you need to litigate and negotiate your personal injury claim. Our office understands the importance of utilizing qualified experts to prove the elements of your case to maximize the damages you need and deserve. Call our office today for a free, confidential consultation at 772-266-5555 or 561-299-3999.
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
Florida District Court of Appeal Reviews Drunk Driver Motorcycle Accident Case, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blog, August 4, 2016
Wrongful Death Appeal Discusses Statutory Requirements for Expert Witnesses in Florida, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blog, July 13, 2016