Florida District Appellate Court Reviews Future Medical Expenses in Multi-Car Accident Case

Part of the proof that must be presented in a Florida car accident case are the damages that one suffered as a result of the accident.  These include lost wages, medical expenses, and future medical expenses.  The Fifth District Court of Appeal recently reviewed a directed verdict regarding damages in favor of an injured driver in Auto Club Ins. Co. of Florida v. Babin (Case No. 5D15-1337). In this case, the man was injured in a multi-car rear-end collision.  The first at-fault car in this chain was underinsured, and the driver filed suit against the driver and his insurance company.  The company did not deny that the driver was at fault but did not think the injured man was entitled to all the damages awarded.

At trial, the injured motorist asked to be compensated for his past lost wages, his diminished future earnings in owning a scuba-diving business, and a future back surgery.  The jury awarded $120,000 in past medical expenses, $70,000 in past lost earnings, $160,000 in future medical expenses, $72,000 in lost earning ability for future years, and $30,000 for past and future pain and suffering.   The insurer appealed the damages for future medical expenses, past lost wages, and future earning capacity.

The injured driver submitted expert testimony that he may need two-level reconstruction if the conservative therapy failed.  The doctor testified that the injured man’s back was not quite at a level of dysfunction that he thought surgery was certain, even though the x-rays of the injured man’s back revealed a “mess.”  The insurer argued that this testimony showed the need for future medical surgery was too speculative and did not meet the requirements under Florida law for damages to be necessary.  The appellate court agreed, finding that the proof provided failed to show the future surgery on the injured man’s lower back was reasonably certain to occur.

The insurer also argued that the proof of the injured man’s diminished ability to earn future income fell short of the reasonable certainty required by law.  The injured man had a long history of employment in both law enforcement and education and provided proof of completing bookwork to become a certified divemaster.  However, he testified that he also thought about opening a service dog-training business.  The appellate court agreed with the insurer that while he proved he was unable to earn income as a divemaster, he  could potentially earn income in other fields. In addition, the appellate court agreed with the insurer that no lost wages should have been awarded because the injured man was unemployed at the time of the accident.  The verdict was reversed on the award of those three damages, but the court allowed the others awarded to remain intact.

The Florida multi-vehicle accident attorneys at Donaldson & Weston can help you with your multi-car accident case.  Our lawyers can aggressively pursue all avenues of legal relief.  Call today for a free, confidential consultation at 772-266-5555 or 561-299-3999.

More Blog Posts:

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