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Jury Finds Defendant at Fault but Issues Zero-Dollar Award in Car Accident Case; Court Increases Award in Lieu of New Trial

Earlier this month, a Delaware appellate court issued a written opinion affirming a jury’s decision to award a personal injury plaintiff a zero-dollar award despite determining that the defendant caused the accident that the plaintiff claimed caused her injuries. In the case, Rash v. Moczulski, the court determined that the jury’s award was reasonable, given the circumstances and the evidence presented at trial.

The Facts

The Rashes were involved in a car accident that they alleged was caused by Moczulski. After a personal injury case was filed, and a jury heard the case, the jury determined that the Rashes “sustained one or more injuries proximately caused by” the Moczulski. However, the jury awarded the Rashes zero dollars for their injuries. According to the court’s written opinion, the defense presented evidence suggesting the “nature and extent” of the Rashes’ injuries were exaggerated, and the plaintiffs failed to mitigate their damages while the trial was pending.

After the verdict was issued, the plaintiff asked the judge for a new trial, arguing that the jury’s verdict was inadequate. The judge denied the motion, explaining that “the exact nature and extent of the plaintiff’s injury and plaintiff’s failure to mitigate his injuries through treatment made identifying and compensating the injury quite problematic.” However, the judge amended the jury’s award to provide $10,000 to the Rashes. Both the plaintiffs and the defendant appealed.

The case was affirmed on appeal. The appellate court explained that the jury was within its right to issue a zero-dollar award when there were contested issues regarding the plaintiffs’ injuries. However, the court explained that the trial judge was proper to amend the jury’s verdict to reflect a $10,000 award in this case. As a general rule, the court explained, a judge should only amend a jury’s verdict if the judge decides to grant the plaintiff’s motion for a new trial. However, here, since the defendant explained to the appellate court in oral argument that he would accept the $10,000 in lieu of a new trial, the award was upheld.

South Florida Personal Injury Cases Involving Contested Damages

This case illustrates that proving another party is at fault for an accident will not necessarily result in a large damages award. In many cases, defendants concede liability for an accident and contest only causation and damages. When this occurs, a skilled injury attorney must shift gears from attempting to prove fault to proving that the injuries sustained were caused by the defendant’s negligence.

Have You Been Injured in a South Florida Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a South Florida car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for all you have been through. However, establishing that another motorist was responsible for the accident is only half the battle. The skilled personal injury attorneys at Cecere Santana understand how to prove that your injuries are worthy of compensation and have the experience and dedication you need to feel comfortable leaving your case in their hands. Call 800-753-5529 to set up a free consultation with an attorney to discuss your case today.

More Blog Posts:

Cecere Santana Joins Operation Elf to Collect Toys for Families in Need, Cecere Santana Injury Lawyers Blog, published December 2, 2016.

Cecere Santana Supports Food Drive, Cecere Santana Injury Lawyers Blog, published November 4, 2016.

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