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Florida Appeals Court Addresses the Issue Of Permanent Injuries in James v. City of Tampa, Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 2nd Dist. 2016

In Florida, car accidents in which damages for personal injuries are at stake, the issue of whether the injuries are permanent is most often left up to a jury to decide.  Judges can take that decision away from the jury in very limited circumstances. Only when there is no issue of fact for the jury to decide, then the judge may make a finding of a directed verdict. Judges must make very detailed findings on this issue. We at Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano, a Miami personal injury law firm, as rated by the Miami Herald, have faced directed verdicts in the past and have persuaded judges to let the case go to the jury.

In the appeal court’s most recent decision in the James case, the plaintiff was riding in a car in the city of Tampa. A trash collection truck moved slowly in front of the car in which James rode. The trash truck backed up and collided with the car. James alleged that the trash truck struck the car once, but the City of Tampa claimed the truck hit the car only once. James suffered personal injuries from the crash with the trash truck. The City of Tampa contested James’ injuries. James suffered injuries in a car crash four months prior when another vehicle struck him broadside. James waited three months before seeking treatment for his injuries from the first crash.

In court, James claimed that he suffered permanent injuries from the crash with the trash truck. The City of Tampa admitted that their trash truck driver negligently backed into James. However, the City of Tampa claimed that James merely suffered an aggravation of the injuries he suffered in the first crash. Any injuries, the City of Tampa claimed, were from the first crash and not the second.

James presented his evidence at trial. The City of Tampa asked the trial judge to enter a directed verdict on the issue of whether James suffered permanent injuries in the accident with the trash truck. The trial judge agreed and took the issue of permanent injuries away from the jury’s consideration.  The only issues for the jury to decide were whether James suffered any past and future medical expenses and whether he suffered any lost wages. The jury came back with a verdict in favor of James for in the paltry amount of $3,315.55 for past medical expenses. The jury refused to award James and future medical expenses or lost wages.

James appealed the verdict. He argued that the trial judge incorrectly entered a directed verdict against him. The appeals court agreed.  In Florida, the party to a lawsuit can ask the judge to direct a verdict in the moving party’s favor when the party who has the burden of proof finishes its case. At that juncture, the judge asks where there is any evidence, taken in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, to sustain a verdict for the non-moving party.  Conflicting evidence is for the jury to sort out, not the judge.

The appeals court ruled in James’ favor. They said that the trial judge made a reversible error by taking the issue of permanency James’ injuries away from the jury.  James called his treating physician and a consulting neurologist to the witness stand during the trial.  The physicians testified that James did suffer permanent injuries in the crash involving the trash truck.  The City of Tampa pointed out several problems with the doctors’ opinions. The conflict in the evidence was for the jury to decide, not a judge. Therefore, the appeals court awarded James a new trial and a chance to ask the jury for permanent damages.

You Need the Vast Experience of Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano on Your Side if you were Injured in a Florida Car Accident

If you or a loved one was injured or killed in an accident in Florida or while you were on vacation, call Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano. Martindale Hubbell gave Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano an AV-rating for a reason: they get results. With over 130 years of combined experience in litigation, Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano has the knowledge and skill to win the compensation you deserve. Call Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano, today at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 to schedule your free consultation.

Source:

James v. City of Tampa, Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 2nd Dist. 2016

 

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