A Miami-Dade jury awarded $632,429.00 last week to a 24 year old man who suffered two herniated discs in the thoracic spine stemming from a motor vehicle accident in 2013.
Akeem Ball was a server traveling to work at Cracker Barrel on US 1 in South Miami-Dade County when the Defendant, a State Farm Insured with only $50,000.00 Bodily Injury Limit, pulled out from a shopping mall in front of Ball on a wet road causing Ball to strike the rear of the Defendant’s’ vehicle.
Ball first sought treatment that day at Jackson South Hospital complaining of back pain. He subsequently sought treatment with a chiropractor, physical therapist and orthopedic surgeon who diagnosed him with two herniated thoracic discs and a cervical disc bulge. Ball subsequently underwent two separate injections to his back to alleviate the pain and was found to have a permanent injury which would require future surgery as well as physical therapy and other follow up care.
The Defendant’s insurance carrier, State Farm, never offered more than $2,000.00 before suit was filed and never offered to pay the $50,000.00 policy limits even after Defense counsel caused a mistrial last year causing the case to be retried this month. Moreover, Ball served a timely proposal for settlement as well as a civil remedy notice, all in an effort to have the carrier simply pay the limits.
At trial, there was no evidence of any prior accidents or complaints of back pain. His total past medical expenses were under $29,000.00. Ball, who now lives in Atlanta, and his treating orthopedic surgeon testified of his need for future care, his pain & suffering as well as loss of earning capacity.
At the close of the Defendant’s case, the Court directed a verdict against the Defendant on liability and the matter went before a jury on the issues of comparative negligence, causation and damages. The jury found the Defendant 70% responsible for the accident and awarded:
In addition to the verdict amount, post trial motions for attorneys fees and costs stemming from the Defendant’s failure to accept the proposal for settlement for policy limits are forthcoming and will subject the Defendant to an additional six figures worth of fees and costs.
Jorge P. Gutierrez Jr. of The Gutierrez Firm was lead trial counsel along with Bobby Nuñez of Nuñez Law, P.L. in Miami.