A man obtained personal injuries during the course of his employment, when he fell through the roof of the building to the floor 12 feet below. The premises are owned by the opponents. The court then granted the man’s motion for partial decision against the opponent on the issue of liability.
A jury trial as to damages was held and rendered a decision in favor of the man. The court ordered $100,000.00 for past pain and suffering, $200,000.00 for future pain and suffering over 25 years, $24,662.00 for past medical expenses, $330,000.00 for future medical expenses over 25 years, $163,870.00 for past loss of earnings and $1,892,300.00 for future loss of earnings.
The opponent’s requests to set aside the jury decision on the ground that the man’s attorney made improper comments during the trial are denied.
Sources revealed that the award for past medical expenses in the sum of $24,662.00 is not supported by the evidence. The only testimony was provided by a physician, who testified that the man’s past expenses were $16,000.00. Therefore, the award of past medical expenses is reduced to $16,000.00.
The opponent’s request to set aside the decision and dismiss the award for lost earnings on the basis of federal preemption is also denied.
At trial, the man testified through an interpreter that he is an undocumented worker from another country, and he came with a tourist visa which was already expired. He stated that he worked at the construction company to removed asbestos. He also presented his licenses and a copy of his social security card. The man testified that he took courses, and received a diploma and course completion certificate for asbestos removal. However, he also stated that he obtained his license and his social security number from his friends.
The evidence presented at trial regarding the man’s use of a false social security number, as well as the asbestos removal licenses bearing the false social security number is insufficient to establish that the construction company was induced into believing that the man was a citizen or otherwise entitled to work in the country. But, the construction company claims to have verified the man’s status.
The opponent’s medical experts testified that the man did not suffer spinal injury following the accident and that he is not disabled.
With respect to the jury’s award of future lost wages, the man’s medical witnesses testified that the man was permanently and totally disabled from construction work and was totally disabled in general. The medical witness also testified as to the man’s maximum earnings in the year he was injured and presented a basis for his analysis of past and future lost wages. While the opponent’s medical witnesses disagreed as to the extent of his disability, the opponent failed to present competing expert testimony as to whether the man would ever be able to perform physical labor consistent with his work experience or various types of sedentary work.
The jury, therefore, was entitled to evaluate the testimony of the medical witness and disregard the opponent’s unsupported claims. The court finds that the evidence presented by the man allowed the loss of earnings to be ascertained with reasonable certainty. Consequently, the jury’s award of past lost wages in the sum of $163,870.00 and future lost wages of $1,892,300.00 is ordered to be reduced appropriately.
The opponent scheduled and held two further independent physical examinations to the man. But, the opponent’s attorney rejected the man’s expert disclosure notice.
The opponent’s assertion that the man failed to prove the necessity of future surgeries with the requisite reasonable certainty is also denied. It is well settled that an award for future medical expenses may not be based upon mere theory. The spinal surgeon testified that the man had two separate problems.
The spinal surgeon offered a definite opinion with regard to the need for two separate surgeries. He stated that the fracture would require reconstruction of the area using multiple rods and screws placed behind the spine in order to bring the area as close as possible to zero degrees and to support the spine with a process called fusion. The surgeon further testified about the short-term and long-term potential risks of surgery, and stated that as the man is 40 years old and the fracture was currently stable, he was not recommending surgery, as the risk of surgery outweighs the potential benefits of surgery.
The spinal surgeon also stated that as regards the lower back, sciatic pain or radiculopathy because of herniation, a laminectomy or decompression is required. He described the potential risks of the surgery, and the potential benefits as decreasing the sciatic pain and preventing further deterioration in the nerve itself from persistent pressure. He explained with a reasonable degree of medical certainty that surgery will decrease the leg pain but would not eliminate it altogether, due to the fact that the man has experienced long-term pain since the time of the accident. He opined that the disk herniation in the lower back was causing the pain in the lower back region. He further opined that the lumbar disk herniation that the man sustained was causally related to the accident. He stated that the cost of the lumbar surgery, including anesthesia, monitoring and in-hospital stay is $15,000.00.
The man’s treating physician, testified that the man’s medical expenses for future treatment for pain management, which include trigger point injections, epidurals and office visits, will be $6,000.00 to $7,000.00 a year for the rest of his life.
As a result, the jury awarded the man future medical expenses of $300,000.00, which was less than the total future medical expenses testified to by the man’s spinal surgeon and treating physician. The court finds that the jury’s award for future medical expenses is supported by the evidence presented at trial, and was not based upon uninformed speculation.
Based on records, the man’s original bill of particulars clearly states that the man may be required to undergo future thoracic spine surgery, and the supplemental bill of particulars states that he will be required to undergo future thoraric and lumbar spinal surgeries. The man admittedly failed to set forth any monetary amount for said future surgeries in the bills of particular. However, the opponent was on notice of the claim for future surgeries, the opponent’s medical experts explained that the man’s thoracic fracture healed and that there was no injury to the lumbar spine, and as the opponent consistently maintained that there was no need for future surgery, the opponent claims unfair surprise with future medical expenses is unfounded.
The branch of the opponent’s cross motion which seeks to set aside the award of damages for future medical expenses is denied and that branch to conform his pleadings to the proof adduced at trial is granted.
Consequently, the opponent’s motion is granted to the extent that the man’s past medical expenses are reduced to $16,000.00, the man’s past lost wages are reduced to $158,107.00, and future lost wages are reduced to $1,848,300.00. The rest of the opponent’s motion is further denied. The court also granted the man’s cross motion to conform the pleadings and the parties are directed to contact the chambers to schedule the hearing.
It is life-threatening for a person who obtained spinal injuries since spine plays an important role in the human body. Whenever you need legal experts to help you recover for damages, seek help from the Queens Personal Injury Attorney or Queens Injury Lawyer. Stephen Bilkis and Associates also suggest the expertise of their Queens Spinal Injury Attorneys.