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Florida Appellate Court Holds Lower Court Erred in Ordering New Trial for All Damages When Only One Category of Damages Was Found to Be Improper

Last month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Florida car accident case involving the issue of whether the lower court was proper to grant a new trial on all of the damages categories after finding that the jury’s award for future medical expenses was excessive. The court ultimately determined that, under Florida Statutes section 768.043(1), only the category found to have been excessive should be subject to a retrial.

Legal News GavelThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured in a car accident with an uninsured motorist. Since the other driver did not have insurance, the plaintiff was forced to file a claim with her own insurance company, under the uninsured motorist (UIM) clause. Generally speaking, when a UIM clause is included in an insurance contract, the insurance company agrees to stand in the place of the uninsured driver. Thus, if the claim cannot be settled, the insurance company may be named as a defendant in a personal injury lawsuit filed by the plaintiff.

After a trial, the jury determined that the uninsured motorist was 100% at fault and awarded damages to the plaintiff as follows:

  • $26,996 for past medical expenses;
  • $377,944 for future medical expenses;
  • $27,375 for past non-economic damages;
  • $383,250 for future non-economic damages;
  • $13,140 for past loss of consortium; and
  • $183,960 for future loss of consortium.

After the verdict was handed down, the insurance company argued that the damages were excessive and asked the court to reduce them or, in the alternative, to order a new trial on the issue of damages. The court rejected the insurance company’s claims regarding all of the damages categories with the exception of future medical expenses. The court then ordered a new trial on the issue of all of the damages categories.

The plaintiff argued that only the damages for future medical expenses should be retried because that was the only category that was found to be excessive. The trial court, interpreting section 768.043(1), determined that it had no discretion in the matter. The plaintiff appealed.

On appeal, the court held that the plaintiff’s position was correct and that only the category of future medical expenses should be the subject of the retrial. The court explained that it would be a waste of time and resources to have a second trial for issues that had been properly resolved. Thus, as a result of the court’s opinion, the plaintiff will not risk receiving a lower damages award for the other categories on retrial.

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, and you are dealing with a difficult insurance company, contact the dedicated South Florida personal injury attorneys at the law firm of Cecere Santana. At Cecere Santana, we have decades of experience assisting victims with pursuing fair compensation for their injuries. We offer free consultations to victims, with no pressure to continue forward with their case. Call 800-753-5529 to schedule your consultation today.

See Additional Blog Posts:

South Florida Accident Involving Dump Truck Claims Two Lives, South Florida Injury Attorneys Blog, May 3, 2018.

Recovering Compensation After a Florida Hit-and-Run Accident, South Florida Injury Attorneys Blog, published May 16, 2018.

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