A Minimum Amount of Damages in Personal Injury Cases

In all Florida personal injury cases one element of the case revolves around the amount of injuries the accident victim (plaintiff) suffered. Damages are established in many different forms, including but not limited to, medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The extent and in particular the amount of damages are often a highly contested issue.

Recently, the Second District Court of Appeal addressed the issue of damages in the context of what can be considered a “minimum amount” of damages. In the case Martin v. Brubaker, So.3d, 37 FLW D949 (Fla. 2nd DCA 4-20-2012), the Court of Appeals held that where a defendant admitted liability, but the jury found that the defendant’s negligence was not the legal cause of the plaintiff’s injuries and awarded no damages, the jury verdict on damages had to be reversed. The Court of Appeals held that the plaintiff was still entitled to at least some amount of damages for the “admittedly reasonable or necessary” medical evaluations and treatments the plaintiff sought immediately after the accident. Id.

Of importance is the Second District Court of Appeal's reference of “reasonable or necessary” evaluations and treatments as it is likely that such language will leave opposing sides to litigate what evaluations and treatments were actually reasonable or necessary and how same should be defined.

Notwithstanding the potential arguments in establishing what is reasonable and necessary, the Martin case establishes that when liability is admitted by the defendant there is a minimum amount of damages which the plaintiff would be entitled to receive.