Florida car accident lawyer, Guy S. DiMartino, DC, JD, discusses why Florida car accident victims lose their cases.
Over the years I have handled many car accident cases and I see a trend between the winners and losers. This is one true and tried way to lose your Florida car accident case. It has the trifecta required to lose a case: (1) minimal damage to the car; (2) pre-existing conditions; (3) facts that negatively impact the injured person's credibility. Any one of these factors alone can hurt a Florida car accident case but even Clarence Darrow or Perry Mason can't resurrect a case that has all three components.
THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED
- In 2007 a guy was involved in a fender-bender car accident. The photos showed a crack and scrape in the bumper. The estimate to repair the car was $800, and at the time of trial some 2 ½ years later, the car had not been fixed.
- About 25 years before the accident, the injured person (plaintiff) had neck surgery. He was also involved in a car accident years before and had a number of underlying medical conditions. The plaintiff also had been to the hospital for back problems about a month before the accident and was taking Lortab, a pain pill.
- The plaintiff had surgery after the 2007 accident and brought a lawsuit to collect for his injuries. Needless to say the jury didn't buy the plaintiff's story and the case was appealed.
In reviewing the appeal the appellate court upheld the verdict for the defendant and clearly cited the trifecta of death for a personal injury case.Regarding the plaintiff's credibility the Court noted:
- Testimony introduced at trial also demonstrated inconsistencies in Mr. Van's story on material issues in the case, placing his credibility into question. Despite Mr. Van's testimony regarding his extensive medical history and pre-existing medical conditions, and that he had not been employed since the 1970's, he nonetheless testified that before the 2007 automobile accident he was able to work around the house, do carpentry work or mechanic work, and swim, run, and play with his grandkids. Mr. Van testified that after the 2007 accident, he was unable to engage in these activities.
- When Mr. Van sought medical treatment following the 2007 accident, he failed to disclose to the treating physician that he had undergone a prior cervical spinal fusion surgery or that he had been involved in an earlier automobile accident. Mr. Van disclosed the prior cervical spinal fusion surgery only upon inquiry by his neurosurgeon, who discovered indicia of an earlier surgery after reading the results of an MRI scan he had ordered of Mr. Van's spine.
- During trial, the jury observed Mr. Van wearing a neck brace. During the cross-examination of Mr. Van's neurosurgeon, the physician testified that there was no medical necessity for Mr. Van to be wearing the neck brace.
- In light of this testimony, the jury was entitled to judge Mr. Van's credibility and accept or reject his testimony on all issues.
We see all three elements of death of a Florida personal injury case at action.
- The plaintiff had a fender bender
- The plaintiff had a number of preexisting medical issues
- The plaintiff's credibility (truthfulness) was suspect whether intentional or not.
By far the greatest factor in a Florida car accident case is a plaintiff's credibility. A jury will overlook the fender bender or preexisting history if they believe the injured person's story. However, if the jury believes the injured person is trying to cover something up or taking advantage of the situation, they will send them home as fast as possible.
If you have any questions about a Florida car accident claim, you can always call me directly at (352) 267-9168 or fill out the internet consultation form on the right.