I’ve pasted below an excerpt from a summary of a verdict that resulted from a Florida (Vero Beach) car accident case. As you can see, the plaintiff was rendered a quadriplegic and the jury awarded her a little over 6.3 million in damages. As an aside, although many people often complain about high verdicts obtained in injury cases, as you can hopefully see, a significant amount of those damages go toward necessary medical care. And certainly roughly half that amount for pain and suffering as a result of an accident that left someone totally disabled for life is justified. The jury awarded her several categories of permissible damages in Florida, including past medical expenses, past lost earnings, future medical expenses, future lost earnings, and past and future pain and suffering.
But the tragic, final and unalterable result in this case was that the 27 year old female plaintiff was rendered a quadriplegic. Regarding her legal case, although the accident was not her fault, the jury attributed 35% of the blame for her injuries on the plaintiff because she was not wearing her seat belt.
RESULT: $ 6,336,160.50 for the Plaintiff. (verdict)
($ 361,665 — past medical expenses; $ 21,243 — past lost earnings; $ 2,438,955.50 — future medical expenses; $ 654,297 — future lost earnings; $ 160,000 — past pain and suffering; $ 2,700,000 — future pain and suffering).
Plaintiff’s Negligence: 35%; Defendant Jena Hoelke’s Negligence: 65%; Defendant Stephen McCulloch’s Negligence: 0%
COUNTY: Indian River
JUDGE: Paul B. Kanarek
PLAINTIFF PROFILE: Age: 27
Cause Of Injury: On February 6, 2008, Plaintiff Egline Henry was permanently paralyzed from the waist down as the result of an automobile accident at the intersection of State Road 60 and 40th Avenue in Vero Beach, Indian River County.
Plaintiff said that she was the unrestrained driver of a vehicle traveling east on Route 60. Defendant Hoelke was the driver of a vehicle traveling west on Route 60 and was turning left through the median at 40th Avenue and intending to travel south onto 40th Avenue. Defendant McCulloch was the driver of a vehicle traveling north on 40th Avenue intending to turn left to proceed west on State Road 60. Defendant Hoelke allegedly struck Plaintiff’s vehicle while making her left turn, causing Plaintiff’s vehicle to spin counterclockwise and roll over, coming to rest on its driver’s side.
Plaintiff alleged negligence against both Defendants in the operation of their vehicles which caused her injuries. The court found Defendant Hoelke was negligent in the cause of the accident. Defendant Hoelke alleged that Defendant McCulloch was negligent in the operation of his vehicle and that Plaintiff was comparatively negligent for failure to wear a seat belt. Defendant McCulloch alleged that Defendant Hoelke was negligent in the operation of her vehicle which was a legal cause of the accident.
Nature Of Injury: Plaintiff was paralyzed from the waist down as the result of injuries to her spinal cord. Plaintiff claimed past economic damages of $ 382,435 and future economic damages of $ 3,947,792. Past and future non-economic damages were for the jury to determine.
Note: The six-day trial began on June 9, 2009. The jury was composed of four women and two men. Plaintiff’s counsel moved for a directed verdict on the seat belt defense which the court denied.
Plaintiff’s motion to tax costs is pending. Plaintiff’s renewed motion for directed verdict and/or motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict is pending.