Court Upholds Athlete’s Award for Future Earnings in Recent Georgia Car Accident Case

Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Georgia car accident case discussing the issue of a plaintiff’s diminished future earning capacity, as well as the expert testimony necessary to establish such a claim. The court ultimately determined that the jury’s award was supported by the evidence and affirmed the $2 million verdict.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff, who was a competitive high-jumper, was involved in a serious car accident with the defendant. Initially, the plaintiff designated an expert who was to testify regarding the impact the accident had on the plaintiff’s personal life and athletic career. The court created a timeline for the case, and assigned certain deadlines. The deadline for the disclosure of witnesses was set for May 12, 2017.

On May 12, 2017, the plaintiff substituted the expert he planned to call as a witness, and amended a previous statement to the court, clarifying that he would be seeking compensation for “diminished earning capacity, diminished ability to work, labor or earn wages.”

On June 20, 2017, the defendant deposed the plaintiff’s witness, who explained that a high-jumper with a similar skill level as the plaintiff could make anywhere between $1,000,000 and $6,000,000 during their career. He also testified that he was in negotiations to get the plaintiff a contract that could be worth approximately $2.5 million, but that the surgery the plaintiff needed in the wake of the accident will prevent him from competing at the required level.

On June 28, 2017, the defendant designated an expert to rebut the testimony of the plaintiff’s expert. However, the court precluded the defense expert’s testimony based on the fact that the name of the expert was not disclosed prior to May 12, 2017, the deadline for the disclosure of witnesses. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff for $2 million, and the defendant appealed.

The defendant argued that the only reason he was late to disclose the name of his expert was because the plaintiff waited until the very last day to substitute his expert. The defendant also claimed that the nature of the plaintiff’s claims changed when the plaintiff added a claim for “diminished earning capacity, diminished ability to work, labor or earn wages.”

The court disagreed, and affirmed the jury’s verdict. The court explained that from the beginning of the case, the plaintiff was clear in that he was intending to call a witness to testify about the impact the accident had on his athletic career. Additionally, the court noted that the plaintiff’s settlement request of $3 million should have been an indication to the defense that the plaintiff was seeking compensation for a loss of future earning capacity. The court characterized the plaintiff’s May 12 amendment to his previous statement as more of a clarification regarding his existing claims, and not as bringing a new claim. Thus, the court held that the defendant was on notice regarding the plaintiff’s claims and the court’s decision to exclude the defense expert based on defendant’s failure to designate an expert by the required date was reasonable.

Have You Been Injured in a Georgia Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Georgia car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated Georgia personal injury lawyers at McAleer Law have extensive experience handling a wide range of Georgia car accident claims, and know what it takes to be successful on their clients’ behalf. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case with an attorney, call 404-622-5337 today. Calling is free, and you will not be billed for our services unless we can help you obtain the compensation you deserve.

See More Posts:

Georgia Court Discusses Venue Selection in Recent UIM Case, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, September 1, 2018.

Georgia Court Discusses Plaintiff’s Potential Failure to Comply with Terms of Insurance Contract, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, June 11, 2018.