It is not enough in a Florida car accident lawsuit to prove the other party caused the accident. Plaintiffs must also show the accident either proximately caused his or her injuries or exacerbated a pre-existing condition.
Often, the issue of causation is obvious. If a person in a car accident sustains a serious head injury, there is usually no doubt the two are causally connected. However, there are some instances in which there were successive causes of negligence that might complicate causation. In other cases, a person may claim severe neck injuries as a result of an accident, and defendants may counter that the force of the crash could not have caused the alleged injuries for which plaintiff is seeking compensation.
How difficult a task this will be will depend on the individual facts of the lawsuit. In some cases, proving this element may require the testimony of an expert witness. This could be a biomechanical engineer who could attest that the dynamics of the crash could have caused the severity of injuries or a medical doctor who opines with reasonable medical certainty that it was the accident – and not some other factor – that caused the plaintiff’s injuries.
In the recent Florida car accident lawsuit of Maines v. Fox, Florida’s 1st District Court of Appeal, justices were asked to decide whether the trial court erred in limiting certain expert witness testimony and in awarding attorney fees to plaintiff based on defendant’s rejection of earlier offers for settlement. The court determined that while the trial court abused its discretion in limiting the testimony of defendant’s biomechanical engineer, the error was deemed harmless. However, with respect to attorney fees, the court determined the earlier proposals for settlement were ambiguous and therefore plaintiff could not collect attorney fees under F.S. 768.79. Continue reading