Our Boca Raton truck accident attorneys recognize that while vehicle occupants injured in trucking accidents must persuasively establish the negligent conduct of the defendants, the task of gathering and persuasively presenting evidence of damages can be just as important. While hospital and doctor bills, payroll records, vehicle repair records, diagnostic exams, medical treatment records, and other documents can provide vital evidence of damages, the medical history of an accident victim can complicate more complex damage determinations like pain and suffering, as well as permanent disability. If a vehicle occupant is injured in a truck crash, the defendant will carefully review the injured party’s medical records for evidence of pre-existing medical conditions. The goal of this research and analysis is to identify other causes of severe or disabling injuries other than the tractor-trailer collision. While seeking immediate legal advice immediately after the collision can mitigate the risk of the trucking company linking your long-term medical condition to a prior injury, insurance companies often raise this issue in the litigation.
Our Florida big-rig accident lawyers recently reviewed a decision from a Florida appellate court that demonstrates the way trucking companies try to limit recoveries by relying on alleged pre-existing injuries. In James v. City of Tampa, plaintiff, a vehicle passenger, suffered injuries when the vehicle he was traveling in was hit by a City of Tampa sanitation truck. At the time of the collision, the garbage truck was backing up. The driver of the vehicle in which the plaintiff was riding also attempted to back up to avoid being struck, but the effort was unsuccessful. The City of Tampa admitted liability so that damages were the sole issue to be determined at trial.
The plaintiff’s medical history related to another collision became a key issue. The plaintiff indicated that he had been involved in a prior accident where the vehicle in which he was a passenger was T-boned. The prior collision occurred four months before the garbage truck accident, and the plaintiff sought treatment for injuries from the prior crash a month before the accident at issue in this lawsuit. The City of Tampa argued that the plaintiff only suffered minor aggravation of an injury from the prior accident in the crash involving the garbage truck.
In the trial court, the City of Tampa sought a directed verdict, finding that the injuries experienced by the plaintiff were not permanent. The motion was granted by the trial judge so that the jury was prevented from determining whether the crash caused permanent injuries and the full amount of damages suffered in the crash. The jury was only allowed to award damages for medical bills, future medical expenses, and lost wages. The jury awarded a mere $3,315.
On appeal, the Florida Second Court of Appeals reversed the trial judge based on expert testimony provided by the plaintiff’s treating physician and a consulting neurologist. The treating physician who provided care to the plaintiff after both accidents testified that the second accident caused the permanent injury. Because the physician treated the plaintiff after both accidents, the court found he was uniquely qualified to determine whether the permanent disability was caused by the second accident. Given the testimony by the treating doctor and the neurologist, the court reversed the trial court.
When liability is reasonably apparent in a trucking accident, insurance companies and commercial carriers often dispute the severity of injuries and extent of damages. This defense involves a careful investigation of an injury victim’s medical records and accident history to identify other causes of severe injury and long-term disability. Our Florida trucking law firm works closely with our clients, medical providers, and healthcare experts to combat this defense strategy.
If you have been injured, or you have lost a loved one in a crash caused by a tractor-trailer operator and commercial carrier, our Boca Raton truck accident attorneys at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano offer the assistance you need to obtain the results you desire. With over 130 collective years of experience representing policyholders across South Florida, our firm provides legal representation of unmatched excellence. Contact our firm as soon as possible to start on the road to protecting your legal rights. Our firm received an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell and was ranked as a top firm in South Florida by the Miami Herald. Put our Florida big-rig accident lawyers to work on your case. Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or you can visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.