Martin v. Brubaker, 87 So. 3d 797, 798 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2012), reh’g denied (May 22, 2012)

This lawsuit involved an auto accident in Polk County. Kimberly Martin, the passenger of the automobile was struck by a vehicle driven by Darrell Brubaker. A few hours after the accident Martin went to Lakeland Regional Medical Center complaining of injuries to her neck and back resulting from the accident. She received initial diagnostic tests and treatments.

At trial, Martin’s expert testimony to the nature of her injuries was contradicted by Brubaker’s evidence that showed her problems were not from the accident but as a result of a preexisting condition. Brubaker admitted liability for the accident; however the jury found that the accident did not cause Martin’s injuries and awarded her no damages.

On appeal Martin challenged the evidentiary ruling of the trial court’s finding that the accident did not cause her injuries, which the Appellate court affirmed. Martin also contended that an error was made by the trial court’s denial of adding to her damages and request for new trial to determine the amount of added damages and that Brubaker specified that it was his negligence that caused the accident combined with his failure to raise the issue of comparative negligence entitled her to receive past medical damages.

The court agreed with Martin on this issue stating that once liability is admitted in a case where a Plaintiff makes a reasonable trip to the emergency room the jury must award at least minimum damages that are undisputedly not barred by Florida’s no-fault threshold. The court reasoned that although the jury’s causation finding was in Brubaker’s favor, the refusal to award her at least the costs of initial medical evaluations as damages was against the manifest weight of the evidence. Martin was entitled to a new trial to be limited to the issue damages that Martin is entitled to.

The main takeaway from this case should be that when an accident involves vehicles containing passengers, if the negligent driver admits liability for the accident, the passengers of the vehicle struck are entitled to compensation for reasonable medical expenses incurred from getting checked out for possible injuries that they might have sustained. It does not matter if the accident is not found to be the legal cause of the injuries sustained as long as the driver admits liability, the liable driver must compensate passengers to a reasonable amount.

CAR ACCIDENT INJURIES MAY NOT BE FELT IMMEDIATLEYA car accident is never expected. People involved in the accident will most likely have a higher level of adrenaline running through their bodies. This can sometimes lead to a person brushing it off and saying to themselves they are fine, only to find out later that the jolt of the accident is now causing a pain in their back or neck the following morning, week or even month.

FREE CONSULTATIONS FOR ACCIDENT VICTIMS IN FLORIDAIf you’ve been involved in an accident and have questions about what to do next, contact the Fort Lauderdale car accident attorneys of Madalon Law. We will gladly go over your case with you at no cost and explain what your options are.