In the Illinois personal injury case of Anderson v. Zamir, No. 5-08-0542, the plaintiff filed a motion for a new trial after the jury returned a verdict awarding only part of her medical bills. The plaintiff’s medical bills as a result of the rear-end car crash totaled $28,804. However, the jury returned a verdict of only $12,500; only $5,000 of which was for her medical bills with the remaining $7,500 for pain and suffering.
While typically an Appellate Court will not overturn a jury’s monetary awards since this is “an issue of fact for the jury to determine”. Typically a jury’s verdict awards will only be overturned if a party shows that the jury obviously ignored an established element of damages, that the award does not relate to the loss suffered, or if the verdict was the result of prejudice.
The facts of the case were that the plaintiff was rear-ended by the defendant. She did not seek treatment for the car crash until the day after the accident, at which time she was complaining of headaches and neck pain. The plaintiff went on to receive several rounds of physical therapy, but with little relief. She eventually underwent surgery to repair a tear in her shoulder.
According to testimony made by the plaintiff’s treating physicians, all of her medical care was related to the car accident. And while the defendant’s attorney cross-examined these doctors, he did not offer any medical experts or evidence to refute that the plaintiff’s injuries were a result of the car crash. And while the jury may choose not to believe a witness’s testimony, they may only do so based upon other evidence or contradictions presented. However, the jury may not simply choose to not believe uncontradicted evidence before them.
Given that the plaintiff’s treating physicians were the only medical experts who testified as to the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries their testimony is considered uncontradicted. Therefore, because all of the medical bills had been admitted into evidence and presented to the jury as reasonable, the jury should have included them in a verdict for the plaintiff. Since this is not what was done, the Appellate Court returned the case to the trial court for a new trial on damages given that the jury’s verdict “simply bears no reasonable relationship to the injuries established by plaintiff at trial”.
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