A person injured in an accident in Florida is entitled to recover a wide range of damages from the responsible party, including those related to medical expenses, pain and suffering and lost earnings. In Maggolc Inc. v. Roberson, the Third District Court of Appeals explains that earnings damages can be proved even with “skimpy” evidence, providing that a jury believes it.
Mr. Roberson was injured in an accident in Miami Beach when he struck a manhole pipe and was thrown from the motor scooter he was driving. He sued Maggolc, the company that resurfaced the pavement where the accident happened, for negligence. Following trial, a jury awarded Roberson more than $500,000 in damages, including those related to past and future medical expenses and lost earnings, as well as pain and suffering.
On appeal, the company challenged the damages awards for past lost earnings and future lost earnings capacity. “Maggolc argues that Roberson’s skimpy testimony regarding past earnings and future earning capacity, unsupported by financial records of any kind, must have impermissibly pinned his claims for those losses on sympathy and speculation,” the Third District explained. Roberson worked as a personal trainer at the Standard Hotel prior to the accident and testified at trial that he was making $80,000 before he was injured. He also admitted that he had not filed tax returns and did not have receipts, appointment evidence or bank records to establish his rates, earnings or expenses.
The appeals court held that the evidence – or lack thereof – was nevertheless sufficient to support the jury’s ruling. “No Florida court has determined that a claim for an individual’s lost past earnings must be supported by documentary evidence, or that the failure to file income tax returns for those earnings…precludes recovery,” the court observed. “These issues are, as they were here, for the jury to weigh in their assessment of Mr. Roberson’s credibility.”
Specifically, Roberson testified at trial that his earnings dropped to an average $17,500 annually in the two years following the accident. An acupuncturist who also worked at the hotel testified that she saw Roberson working long hours six to seven days a week and that they referenced clients to each other. Roberson also said that he had intended to work as a personal trainer for another eight years prior to the crash.
Finding the evidence sufficient, the court upheld the jury award.
While the jury and appeals court sided with Robertson in the particular case, it is important that a person suing for personal injury related to a car, motorcycle or scooter accident to provide clear and convincing evidence of any related damages. It is best not to leave these issues in the hands of a court or jury and instead to provide any and all necessary evidence to establish the damages to which you are entitled.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident in Florida, contact the South Florida car accident lawyers at Anidjar & Levine. We represent clients throughout the area, including in Coral Springs, Hialeah and Pompano Beach, in a wide variety of personal injury claims and we are dedicated to maximizing recovery for those we represent. Call us toll-free at 800-747-3733 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
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