Florida Appellate Court Reverses Lower Court’s Additur in Car Accident Case

In Ferrer v. La Serna, the plaintiff suffered injuries during a car accident. A few days afterward, the woman obtained medical treatment from her doctor, who concluded that the woman had sustained a neck injury. During the same visit, the doctor also determined that she suffered from a degenerative back condition. The doctor determined that while the degenerative back condition was not the result of the car accident, the collision caused the woman to start experiencing symptoms associated with the degenerative condition.

The doctor also instructed the women to forgo seeking chiropractic treatment for her back and other car accident-related injuries because they could lead to further aggravation of her back injury. Despite this warning, the woman obtained chiropractic treatment multiple times a week for a period of months.

Roughly one year after the collision took place, the woman started suffering pain in her forearm. While the doctor indicated that the pain was likely related to her neck trauma, he could not make an objective correlation between the new symptom and her accident-related injuries.

Some time thereafter, the woman filed a negligence claim against the driver of the other vehicle involved in the crash, seeking some $11,000 in damages, primarily reflecting her past and future medical expenses. During trial, the defendant introduced the testimony of an expert medical witness who stated that he was unable to draw a connection between the radiating forearm pain and the car accident. Notwithstanding this testimony, the expert testified that the pain was almost certainly correlated with the woman’s pain.

The jury ultimately awarded the woman $8,000 in damages, and the plaintiff filed a motion requesting an additur. This type of motion requests that the court increase the jury’s damages award instead of ordering a new trial. The lower court granted the request for an additur and increased the jury’s award by over $3,000. The defendant appealed.

On review, the Fourth District Court of Appeal stated that the trial court’s grant of the plaintiff’s motion for additur was an error because the court failed to identify its findings supporting the additur. According to Florida Statutes Section 768.043, a trial court may grant a request for additur when the jury’s damages award “was clearly inadequate,” based on the factors enumerated in the provision. Since the lower court failed to specify its findings in support of the additur, and it failed to indicate why additur was more appropriate than a new trial, the appellate court remanded the case with instructions to reinstate the jury’s original damages award.

If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Determining the amount of damages to which you are entitled in a lawsuit can be a stressful and complex process, often requiring the assistance of expert witnesses. At Lusk, Drasites and Tolisano, our auto accident lawyers have helped many Southwest Florida residents throughout Naples, Fort Myers, and Cape Coral investigate a claim and seek the settlement or judgment that they deserve. Call us now at 1-800-283-7442 or contact us online to set up your free consultation.

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