High Personal Injury Damages Despite Modest Medical Bills

Injuries can be traumatic, even if they result from relatively low impact events. In the recent case of Glasgow v. K-VA-T Food Stores, Inc., the Plaintiff was a shopper at a Food City grocery store. The Plaintiff was a diabetic who had one prosthetic leg. He used the restroom. While attempting to stand, the Plaintiff became dizzy and started to fall. He grabbed the handrail, but it pulled out of the wall and the Plaintiff fell and struck his head.

Following the fall, the Plaintiff developed uncontrollable migraines accompanied by light sensitivity. At the time of the fall, the Plaintiff was only 42 years old and had been employed in the television and video production field for 14 years, but he was unable to continue working in that field due to the use of the bright lights. He switched careers and was employed at the time of the trial. He incurred $5,310 in medical bills.

The Plaintiff sued claiming personal injuries as a result of the fall, which would not have occurred but for the faulty handrail and Food City's prior knowledge and failure to fix it. At trial, the Plaintiff presented the testimony of his treating family doctor and neurologist who both testified that the fall caused the headaches and that the headaches may continue into the future. Ultimately, the jury found in the Plaintiff's favor and awarded him $350,000. From a technical standpoint, the trial court reduced this amount to $250,000, as that was the maximum amount the Plaintiff had asked for in his complaint.

Food City appealed the amount of the jury's verdict only on the ground that it was excessive. The Plaintiff and, more importantly, the court disagreed. The appellate court noted that the determination of the amount of damages is for the jury to decide and would not be disturbed if material evidence supported the verdict amount. The court found that the testimony of the two doctors, the previously non-existent migraines, and the impact on the Plaintiff's employment could result in the award given by the jury. Thus, the reduced verdict in the amount of $250,000 for the Plaintiff's fall was affirmed. Overall, it appears that the Plaintiff and his counsel presented an effective case to the jury, which resulted in a fairly high damages amount in light of the relatively modest amount of medical bills. This case emphasizes the importance of solid trial preparation, but also highlights that juries can be unpredictable.