This personal injury claim is a result of a subway accident which occurred on June 5, 1995. Plaintiffs, Mr. M and Ms. T, were among passengers riding on a “X” train which collided with another train on the Williamsburg Bridge. Although the action was commenced in the Supreme Court, it was later transferred to the Civil Court pursuant to CPLR 325 (d), where, defendant having conceded liability, a trial was conducted solely on the issue of damages.
At the trial, Mr. M offered the testimony of a chiropractor who treated him for approximately two years after the accident, when he was employed at XYZ Chiropractic Center. XYZ Chiropractic Center shared a building with two other medical practices, ABC Medicine & Rehabilitation and DEF Spinal Rehabilitation, and it appears that they often dealt with the same patients as well. It was noted that none of the practices were still in business at the time of the trial. Mr. M’s medical records from all three practices were admitted into evidence through the testifying chiropractor, notwithstanding the fact that he had left XYZ Chiropractic Center midway through Mr. M’s four-year course of treatment at that facility and despite the fact that the chiropractor was not an employee or a custodian of the records of ABCl Medicine & Rehabilitation or DEF Spinal Rehabilitation.
The Court held that medical office records are admissible under the business records exception to the hearsay rule, provided a proper foundation is laid for their admissibility. While it is not necessary that the foundation witness have made the records, or even that he or she be familiar with the particular records in question, it must be shown that the witness has had some familiarity with the doctor’s business practices and procedures. No such showing was made in this case of Mr. M. The chiropractor was not in a position to have known about the record-keeping practices of ABC Chiropractic Center after his departure from that facility, nor was he qualified to testify about the record-keeping practices and procedures of the other facilities. It was, therefore, error for the lower court to have admitted into evidence the medical records of the three practices through the chiropractor, which error was further compounded by plaintiff’s neurological expert’s reliance on those records. The Court further held that the verdict was excessive and accordingly, a new trial was ordered as to plaintiff Mr. M’s claim on the issue of damages.
With respect to Ms. T, the court held that those portions of the jury’s verdict which awarded Ms. T $75,000 for past pain and suffering and $25,000 for future pain and suffering were excessive. Considering the nature and extent of her injuries, the award deviated materially from what would be reasonable compensation to the extent that it exceeded $25,000 for past pain and suffering and $15,000 for future pain and suffering. However, the court left undisturbed the award of $11,377.82 for past medical expenses.
Personal injury claims can be difficult to pursue. They can be confusing and often takes forever to resolve. Gathering of testimonies and evidence can be a chore especially to the victim who is physically incapable to gather the same. It is thus crucial for those involved in these kinds of cases to retain a counsel well versed on personal or spinal injury technicalities.
Stephen Bilkis & Associates with its team of competent Queens County Personal Injury Attorneys has convenient offices throughout the Queens County area. Our Queens County Personal Injury Attorneys can give the all legal assistance you need to receiving justice for your situation.
In addition to Queens County Law, please remember that Stephen Bilkis and Associates can recommend a Queens County Spinal Injury Attorney in your area to assist you. A Queens County Injury Lawyer can argue your side and help you through the complexities of the case. Without a Queens County Injury Lawyer’s help, one runs the risk of losing important evidence or witness. A Queens County Spinal Injury Lawyer can help you protect your rights and obtain justice for any accident or injury.