Pain & Suffering

Attorneys who handle injury cases need to know this case. It is a 2013, case from the Corpus Christi Court of Appeals. It is styled, Schaffer v. Nationwide. Here is the relevant information.
In February 2006, Schaffer, who was driving north-bound on United States Highway 77 and was beginning to merge onto Interstate Highway 37 in northwest Corpus Christi, Texas, collided with a truck driven by Brady Lovins. Schaffer alleges that she suffered injuries to her lower back as a result of the accident. To treat her injuries, Schaffer underwent: physical therapy, first in April to June 2006 and, again, from September 2007 to January 2008; a series of lumbar steroid and other injections in the summer and fall of 2006 and throughout 2007; and, finally, lumbar fusion spinal surgery in February 2008. Schaffer alleges that she continued to suffer severe pain even after her surgery.
In connection with the accident, Schaffer sued Lovins for negligence. Schaffer also sued Lovins’s employer, Tracey Barrett d/b/a Barrett Pools, for vicarious liability because Barrett owned the truck Lovins was driving. Finally, Schaffer sued Nationwide for underinsured motorist benefits owing under her auto and umbrella policies with the company.
Schaffer’s underinsured benefits claims against Nationwide were tried to a jury. The issue at trial was whether Lovins’s negligence was the cause of the accident and whether and what damages Schaffer suffered as a result of the accident. After the close of evidence, the jury was questioned as to whose negligence caused the accident. The jury answered that both Lovins’s and Schaffer’s negligence were proximate causes of the accident. The jury then apportioned responsibility for the accident, finding that Lovins was seventy-five percent responsible and Schaffer was twenty-five percent responsible. Finally, the jury was questioned as to damages. The jury awarded zero damages for past and future physical pain, past and future earning capacity, past and future physical impairment, and future medical expenses. The jury awarded Schaffer $257,131.41 for past medical expenses.
In this courts’ evaluation of the appeal the court cited Texas law which says as a general rule, it is ordinarily the prerogative of the jury to set damages, but they have no authority to completely ignore the undisputed facts and arbitrarily fix an amount neither authorized nor supported by the evidence and that the jury cannot ignore uncontroverted evidence of injury in denying any recovery for past physical pain.
This court then spend over six pages in pointing out the evidence in the case that was evidence of pain and suffering.
The court then stated, “Having reviewed all of the evidence relevant to the jury’s zero-damages finding, we believe this finding was against the great weight and preponderance of the evidence. The evidence that Schaffer was injured in some way and suffered some pain as a result of the accident was undisputed.”
The ruling reversed the judgment of the trial court and the case was remanded for a new trial on all issues.

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