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Negligent Driver Liability, Are They Responsible?

Is a Negligent Driver Automatically Responsible for My Medical Bills Following an Accident?

Following a car accident, your first priority should always be to seek medical treatment. Even if you do not think you sustained any serious injuries, it is still best to get checked out by a doctor. This also makes sense for legal reasons. After all, if it becomes necessary to file a personal injury claim against the other driver, you will need to prove that any medical treatment you received was the direct result of the accident.

Jury Only Awards Plaintiff Partial Damages for Post-Accident Chiropractor Visits

You might think that in the event of a lawsuit, all you need to do is show the court your medical bills and that will be sufficient to prove damages. But that is not always the case. Even where your doctors testify as to the causes of your injuries and the need for treatment, a jury may still decide the evidence is incomplete and only award you partial damages.

Here is a recent Ohio case on point, Langendorfer v. Gastrich. This case involves a July 2015 car accident that occurred in a parking lot. The plaintiff was one of the drivers involved. She sued the defendant–the other driver–for negligence. At trial, the plaintiff claimed a total of $13,211.70 in medical bills. The defendant did not contest the amount of the plaintiff’s bills, but he did not agree these damages were “proximately related to the accident.”

car accident

The primary witnesses at trial were the two parties and the plaintiff’s chiropractor, who treated her after the accident. In fact, the chiropractor testified that he saw the plaintiff about 47 times in the six months following the accident, which he testified was “high.” The doctor also stated that in his professional opinion, there was “a causal connection between the [plaintiff’s] injuries he treated and the accident in the parking lot.”

The defense did not offer any expert testimony to rebut the plaintiff’s chiropractor. After both sides presented their respective cases, the plaintiff moved for a directed verdict on the issue of her medical bills. This refers to a legal procedure where the judge determines that “reasonable minds could come to only one conclusion” on a contested issue and issues a decision without submitting the question to the jury.

In this case, the judge denied the motion for a directed verdict. The issue was submitted to the jury. It returned a verdict for the plaintiff, but only awarded her $8,912.95 for her past medical expenses, which was less than the $13,211.70 in medical bills she claimed.

On appeal, the plaintiff argued the trial judge erred in not granting her a directed verdict for the full amount of her medical bills. The Court of Appeals disagreed. It noted the chiropractor’s testimony that the number of times he saw the plaintiff after the accident was “high,” and that the jury could have reasonably concluded that not all of the plaintiff’s medical bills “were necessary and proximately caused” by the defendant’s negligence.

Contact a Ohio Personal Injury Lawyer Today

Proving damages is often a more complex task than proving the defendant’s liability for the accident itself. This is why it is important to work with an experienced Ohio personal injury lawyer when investigating and building a case following a car accident. Contact Tittle & Perlmuter at (216) 242-1361 if you need help with a personal injury matter today. We serve clients in Cleveland, Lakewood, Elyria, Chardon, Sandusky and surrounding areas.