Actual case (Not my case): $300,000 verdict for pain and suffering component alone for a 46-year-old woman who had surgery to her lower back. A Walgreen’s tractor trailer truck hit her in Palm Beach County, Florida. She claimed a herniated disc and an annular tear after she was hit (t-boned) by a Walgreen’s truck.
$150,000 was awarded for past pain and suffering, and $150,000 was awarded for future pain and suffering. A Walgreen’s employee was driving a tractor-trailer (18 wheeler truck) and he tried to make a right hand turn as seen in the diagram that I created.
The woman claimed that she had a green light and the Walgreens truck hit the side of her car. She said that the Walgreen’s truck ran a red light. The Walgreen’s truck driver said that he was making a turn on a green light.
She had a herniated disc in her lower back (L5-S1) and an annular tear at L4-L5. She had surgery (laser discectomy) on both of these levels. Walgreens argued that the woman had the herniated disc and annular tear before the accident.
The woman was found to have 50% comparative fault (at fault). Walgreens was 50% at fault. The verdict was in 2004. The case is Anderson v. Walgreen Co.
My thoughts: The woman was awarded $150,000 for her pain and suffering from the time of the accident through trial (which was 1 ½ years later). I assume that the woman was expected to live another 30 years or so.
If this is the case, then she was awarded $5,000 per year for future pain and suffering for the rest of her life.
The woman was found to be 50% at fault, so the amount of pain and suffering that she will get will be ½ of the total damages (medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering) awarded. That means that she will get ½ of $300,000, which is $150,000.
If the jury found that Walgreen’s negligence caused the accident, and Walgreens was 30% at fault, then she would have been able to get 30% of her economic damages (that weren’t paid by PIP) and 30% of her non-economic damages (e.g. pain, suffering, etc.).
In Florida, even if the woman was 51% at fault, she could still get 49% of her total damages. Some other states do not let you get any money if you are more than 50% at fault in an accident.
Walgreens argued that the woman had the herniated disc and annular tear before the accident. This is a very common argument that Walgreens may make when you have a back injury such as a herniated disc or annular tear and you are in your 30’s or older.
This is because many people who are in their 30’s or older may have a herniated disc even if they do not know it.
Walgreens will generally hire an orthopedic doctor or neurologist who will state that your herniated disc was a pre-existing injury (existed before the accident).
Tip: It is important to know how to find a florida orthopedic doctor for your injury case. The same is true when looking for a Florida neurologist.
You want someone who will go to bat for you. You can be sure that Walgreens (or any defendant) will choose an orthopedic doctor who will give favorable testimony (within ethical bounds) for Walgreens.
If you are in your teens or twenties, Walgreen’s will have a much more difficult time arguing that your herniated disc pre-existed the accident.
Even if you had your back injury before the accident, you may still get damages (pain and suffering, medical bills and lost wages) against Walgreens if your injury was worsened (aggravated) from the accident.
I am not sure whether Walgreens argued that the woman’s injuries were not permanent. If Walgreens argued that the woman’s injuries were not permanent and the jury believed Walgreens, then the woman would not have been entitled to money for pain and suffering.
This is because in most, but not all, cases if you’re hit by a truck while your in a car in Florida, you are not entitled to get non-economic damages (e.g. pain, suffering, etc.) if you cannot prove that your injury is permanent.
So if her injury was not permanent, she would not have received any money for non-economic damages. Believe it or not, some juries have found that back surgery is not a permanent injury is some cases.
But if a truck hits you while you’re in a car in Florida, even if you don’t have a permanent injury, you can still get economic damages (e.g. medical bills [past and future] and lost wages [past and future], etc.). You would also be entitled to economic damages if you were in a truck, on a bicycle or walking as a pedestrian.
In the case above, if the woman was covered by Florida PIP auto insurance at the time of the accident, PIP would have paid benefits. You can learn more about how to get your medical bills paid if you are in a car accident in Florida.
Learn about Walgreens slip and fall injury claims in Florida.
You can check out some settlements for herniated discs in Florida accident claims.
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