When someone is injured in a car accident, an applicable insurance policy may cover their losses due to the accident. However, any damages after a car accident are only recoverable if the accident was the cause of the damages. This may seem obvious, but as your experienced South Florida car accident attorney can tell you, in the courtroom it can be more complicated than it seems at first.
Trial Court Holding
While he was driving, the plaintiff was struck from behind. Luckily, the plaintiff had an insurance policy that covered him under his uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. As he did not believe he was properly compensated, he sued the insurance company. Both the insurance company defendant and the plaintiff agree that the driver who hit him was acting negligently. However, where the parties disagree is whether certain injuries were caused by the accident or whether they were already existing and thus not eligible for compensation under the policy.
At trial, the jury found for the plaintiff. However, after the jury verdict, the defendant insurance company appealed to the Florida Fifth District Court of Appeal, who heard the instant case.
The Insurance Company’s Position
The defendant argued that the court should not have granted plaintiff’s summary judgment motion because the issue of causation should have been heard by the jury. A summary judgment motion is properly granted when the court finds that there are no genuine issues of material fact and a party shows that they should be granted judgment as a matter of law. In other words, basically when the court feels like they have all the information they need to make a decision and there is no need for a finding of fact, only a judgement of law.
The trial court granted the part of plaintiff’s summary judgment motion where the issue of causation was settled. Essentially, the court found as a matter of law that the accident caused the plaintiff’s injuries because he suffered “some” injury from the accident. However, the appeals court here overturned this granting of summary judgment. They noted that the evidence supports the position of the insurance company.
Specifically, the court here noted that the plaintiff himself testified that he was in a previous car accident from which he still suffered pain. At the time of the accident at issue, the plaintiff was still taking medication for the injuries of the previous accident. However, the plaintiff voluntarily dismissed any claims relating to his lower back, but this was after the summary judgment motion was granted.
Therefore, the appeals court overturned the granting of the plaintiff’s partial summary judgment motion and remanded the case back for the issue of causation to be heard by the factfinder. The appeals court also noted that it was improper for the court to exclude evidence of plaintiff’s prior back injuries because it is relevant to the issues of causation and damages.
Contact an Experienced South Florida Personal Injury Attorney Today!
If you have been injured, you should contact a South Florida car accident attorney as soon as possible in order to get the damages you deserve. The South Florida Personal Injury attorneys at Donaldson & Weston can help you to make sure you get the damages you need to cover the costs of your medical bills. Call us at 772-266-555 or 561-299-3999 or use the contact form on this website to schedule your free, confidential consultation today.
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