Articles Posted in Rules of Evidence

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shutterstock_227581717-300x200In the case of  Walerowicz v. Armand-Hosang, the Fourth District Court of Appeal clarified its perspective on two points: 1) what is considered sufficient evidence to prove past medical expenses and 2) how to deal with admission of expert testimony that does not conform to the court’s trial order. In this case, the plaintiff, Mandy Armand-Hosang, sued for permanent bodily injuries she sustained in a car accident. As in most every auto accident case in Florida, Ms. Armand-Hosang, as the plaintiff, had to prove the causation and permanency of the her injuries and reasonableness and necessity of her medical bills. The Fourth District Court of Appeal sided with the plaintiff on both issues, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by allowing the plaintiff’s surgeon to testify regarding the causation and permanency of the plaintiff’s injuries, and the plaintiff had met the evidentiary burden to prove the reasonableness and necessity of her past medical expenses.

In many states, all that is required to establish reasonableness and necessity of past medical bills is merely entering the medical bills into evidence. Florida, on the other hand, requires a little more effort—but to what extent? In Walerowicz, to prove reasonableness and necessity, the plaintiff’s attorney relied on the plaintiff’s testimony about her treatment for her accident-related injuries, the treating surgeon’s testimony, and also offered the medical bills into evidence. The defendant argued that the testimony was insufficient to establish reasonableness and necessity because the plaintiff did not associate each specific bill to the injuries sustained in the accident.

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In my experience as a trial lawyer, it is often times difficult for the parties of a lawsuit to understand the restrictive nature of the rules of evidence. There are narrow guidelines by which attorneys must conduct themselves when arguing to a jury. If a lawyer steps out-of-bounds during trial, his client’s favorable verdict might be overturned by an appellate court.

Such was the case in TT of Indian River v. Fortson, a recent appellate decision issued by Florida’s Fifth District Court of Appeal. In TT of Indian River, the plaintiff in a personal injury automobile accident case received a favorable jury verdict. However, due to some remarks made by her trial attorney, that verdict was overturned.

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