Great Trial Verdict - Vehicular Accident - Lake County

Fort Lauderdale West Partners Sanaz Alempour and Greg Willis recently achieved a great jury verdict after a six-day trial in Lake County. Plaintiff was 17 years old driving on the Florida Turnpike just south of Ocala when the defendant’s tanker truck made an illegal U-turn in front of plaintiff causing a horrendous impact to the front drivers side of the plaintiff’s vehicle. A trucker traveling behind the Plaintiff caught the entire incident on his dash cam and provided the plaintiff a copy of the video, which the plaintiff played multiple times for the jury. This was a very high-speed impact. The trucking company later filed for bankruptcy and the driver’s wife fell ill before trial, so the defense had no client available for trial. There was significant coverage available through primary and excess policies.

Plaintiff was taken by ambulance to the ER in Orlando. Over the ensuing five years plaintiff had knee surgery, multiple rounds of injections in her back and neck, multiple rounds of facets injections, occipital injections, shoulder injections and multiple rounds of ablations in her neck and low back. The week before trial she received a recommendation for an L5/S1 disc replacement. Before trial, the plaintiff had a total of 177 medical visits, including physical therapy, related to the accident. There was no evidence of the now 22-year-old plaintiff having prior back, knee, or shoulder trauma. MRIs taken shortly after the accident were read as showing herniation at C5/6, multiple thoracic herniations and bulges, and herniations at L4/L5 and L5/S1. The knee MRI revealed a torn meniscus on the left knee and a bone bruise on the femur.  Additionally, the plaintiff claimed the brain MRI using DTI showed a traumatic brain injury, which were manifest by headaches, sleepiness, fogginess, and photophobia. When the car airbag inflated, the plaintiff blocked her face to avoid the impact and the car emblem on the steering wheel embedded into her forearm and left a distinct emblem tattoo that lasted two years. Plaintiff’s knee surgeon, neurologist, radiologist, and pain management doctors all testified in favor of the plaintiff, two of whom the plaintiff flew into Lake County from South Florida to testify live. Plaintiff also flew in an out of state accident recon expert who testified live regarding the vehicle speeds.

Past medicals were $402,000 and future medicals were projected at over $300,000 in her life care plan. In closing the plaintiff asked the jury to award $5.7 million, including $667,000 for past pain and suffering and $4.3 million for future pain and suffering. After 3 ½ hours of deliberation, the jury returned a verdict of $51,000 for past medicals and $40,000 for future medicals but found no permanent injury. The $51,000 for past medical bills is the amount defendant’s billing expert suggested. The award was less than defendant’s three years old PFS, so the defense is entitled to recover attorney fees. The defense had issued a significantly higher PFS last year. This was a case of admitted liability and Plaintiff sought leave to add a claim for punitive damages a month before trial which was denied.

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