Florida Court Explains Modifications of Damages Awards in Personal Injury Cases

In personal injury matters, the plaintiff may request a certain compensation award but the issue of what damages are appropriate rests squarely with the jury. Juries do not always issue awards that align with the evidence, however, and in some instances, the damages granted are woefully inadequate. Thankfully, in such instances, injured parties can move for additur, which is a modification of a damages award by the court. In a recent Florida opinion delivered in a personal injury case, a court discussed additur and when it is appropriate. If you suffered harm due to someone else’s negligence, you might be owed damages, and you should consult a Florida personal injury attorney to discuss your potential claims.

The Plaintiff’s Harm and Subsequent Damages

Allegedly, the defendant homeowner embarked on a home improvement project without obtaining a necessary building permit or hiring a licensed contractor. Instead, he hired an unlicensed contractor and then let the country. The plaintiff was hired to work on the project as a day laborer to help install a support beam and was directed to remove an electrical conduit from the ceiling so the beam would fit.

Allegedly, although the plaintiff was advised the power was off, it was on, and he suffered an electric shock that caused him to fall off a ladder and onto the floor. He underwent a surgical repair of the fracture followed by three months of physical therapy. He subsequently filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, asserting a negligence claim. The jury ultimately deemed the plaintiff 55% negligent and the defendant 45% negligent and awarded the plaintiff compensation for the cost of his medical bills and $25,000 for pain and suffering. The plaintiff then filed a motion for additur. The court granted the motion and added $225,000 in damages for pain in suffering. The defendant filed a notice rejecting the additur, which entitled him to a new damages trial. He then filed an appeal.

Grounds for Additur in Florida Personal Injury Cases

On appeal, the court agreed with the defendant’s assertion that the trial court abused its discretion in granting the plaintiff an additur, as the court did not point to anything in the evidence of record that supported the finding that the jury’s award for pain and suffering was grossly inadequate. Instead, the court merely relied on damages awards issued in other cases in which the plaintiff suffered a broken femur, finding that the award in the subject case was far below the standard.

The court explained that, pursuant to Florida law, it is within a trial judge’s discretion to grant an additur motion. The fact that there may be evidence of record that supports a jury’s verdict does not mean a court erred in granting additur. A court cannot act as the jury by substituting its resolution of factual issues, however. In the subject case, the appellate court found that the trial court erred in granting the plaintiff’s motion. Thus, it reversed the trial court ruling.

Meet with an Experienced Florida Attorney

Injured parties typically rely on juries to determine what their damages should be, but if a jury’s verdict is inadequate, there are options for seeking an adjustment. If you suffered harm due to another party’s negligence, it is in your best interest to meet with an attorney to evaluate what compensation you may be owed. The experienced Florida personal injury lawyers of Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano, P.A. can advise you of your potential claims and aid you in pursuing the best legal result available under the facts of your case. You can reach us via our form online or at 800-283-7442 to set up a meeting.

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