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Palm Beach County

The defendants, the driver and owner of an armored International Bank Truck, stipulated to negligence in causing a rear end collision with the plaintiff’s car on Interstate Route 95. Accordingly, the case was tried on the issues of damages and causation only.

On December 15, ________, the plaintiff was on his way home and was traveling southbound on Interstate Route 95 in a Ford Econoline van. The plaintiff was wearing his lap and shoulder safety belt. Traffic on Route 95 had come to a complete stop due to an accident further south. The plaintiff claimed that the defendant driver, operating a ________-pound truck, struck the rear of his van without braking at a speed of 25 to 35 mph.

During the impact, the plaintiff’s seat back failed, causing the plaintiff’s head to move backwards over his seat back. The plaintiff contended that his head struck a piece of plywood which he had installed in his van to store painting materials. Although seat belted, the plaintiff claimed he rebounded forward and struck his head on the steering wheel then struck the back of his head again on a paint pole which had been in the back of his van.

The plaintiff claimed that he lost consciousness as a result of the accident. After the collision, he complained of head trauma, dizziness, neck pain, vision problems, uncontrollable tearing of the eyes, headaches and short-term memory loss. The plaintiff’s neuropsychologist testified that testing confirmed that the plaintiff exhibited an abnormality of the right temporal lobe area, which is the area that controls short-term memory. The plaintiff’s doctor opined that the brain injury was causally related to a closed head injury sustained in the accident. The plaintiff was also diagnosed with multilevel herniated discs with severe nerve root impingement. The plaintiff underwent a three-level cervical fusion.

The plaintiff claimed that he is currently precluded from many of his pre-accident activities. The plaintiff’s wife testified that her husband was forgetful, childlike and their marriage and sexual relationship has suffered as a result of the accident. The plaintiff was a 45-year-old interior detail painter at the time of the accident. He continued to work in the same field, but claimed that he could no longer perform the fine interior design painting he was able to do before the accident. The plaintiff made no wage loss claim.

The defendant’s medical expert opined that the plaintiff sustained, at most, a minor neck injury as a result of the accident and that the injury had resolved. The defense maintained that the plaintiff’s cervical surgery was necessitated by preexisting degenerative conditions was unrelated to the accident. The defendant’s neuropsychologist testified that there was no objective evidence to support the plaintiff’s claim of a brain injury.

The jury awarded the plaintiff $________ in damages. The award included $________ in past medical expenses; $________ in future medical expenses; $________ in past pain and suffering; $________ in future pain and suffering and $________ to the plaintiff wife for her loss of consortium. The case is currently on appeal.

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