Noneconomic Damages After a Slip and Fall Accident in Florida

Slip and fall accidents occur when a person slips or trips while on another’s property. They can be the result of poor lighting, potholes, uneven surfaces, spilled liquids, slippery floors, and freshly mopped floors. Among other things, as a plaintiff in a Jacksonville premises liability lawsuit, you need to establish that you were injured as the result of a dangerous condition, and the property owner knew or should have known about it. A recent slip and fall case in Florida arose when the plaintiff went into a large chain store and slipped and fell on a puddle on the floor. She suffered tingling in her extremities and pain in her right knee and lower back. She went through a course of nonsurgical treatment, but kept suffering from restricted motion and pain.

She was referred to a board-certified orthopedic surgeon. He faced limitations in diagnosis because of her pacemaker. He found a lumbar spine disc herniation and misaligned patella. He suggested an alternate treatment. She wasn’t considered to be the right patient for this treatment. She sued the chain store claiming negligence. The controversy went to trial. There, she presented evidence of her medical expenses past and future. She also tried to establish pain and suffering damages. The defendant didn’t put forward an expert. Instead, it tried to blame her pain on other medical conditions such as arthritis. In its closing argument, it claimed she was exaggerating her pain, even if she was hurt by the fall.

The jury awarded her past medical expenses. It didn’t award her pain and suffering or any future damages. The court denied a motion for new trial. It also denied a motion for additur, which is a request that the court decide whether the amount of damages was insufficient given the facts and circumstances.

The plaintiff appealed the denial of these motions. The appellate court explained that future damages are uncertain as compared to past damages. However, if a jury knows that medical expenses were incurred because of an accident, an award that doesn’t include past pain and suffering may be inadequate. In this case, the issue of future damages was disputed; it remained in controversy through trial. The jury’s failure to award these damages was properly supported by evidence.

However, its failure to award past noneconomic damages was at issue. The plaintiff’s expert testified about trauma-induced pain; the defendant did not present an expert to counter. The defendant conceded she’d experienced pain in its closing. The appellate court reasoned that the failure to award even a small sum for past noneconomic losses wasn’t supported by the weight of the evidence. It held that the lower court’s denial of the motion for a new trial or additur was in error. It reversed on the issue of past noneconomic damages. It specified that if the same lower court judge was available, he or she could consider additur in order to satisfy the award of a new trial.

If you were injured in a slip and fall in Jacksonville, you should consult experienced attorney Kevin Cobbin. Our firm represents people throughout Duval County and the surrounding areas. Call us at (904) 357-8448 or complete our online form.

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