Louisiana Supreme Court Weighs In On Evidentiary Basis for Awards for Future Medical Expenses

On March 16, 2010, the Louisiana Supreme Court in Menard v. Lafayette Insurance Company, 09-1869, found that the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal erred in its application of the manifest error standard of review in increasing a jury’s award for future medical expenses in a personal injury case. The jury awarded plaintiff $88,373.73 for future medical expenses. The Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal found internal inconsistencies in the jury’s award and increased it to $1,413,508.75. The Louisiana Supreme Court found no such inconsistencies, but rather found two opposing views that provided a reasonable basis for the jury’s decision.

The Louisiana Supreme Court set forth the law supporting an award for future medical expenses as follows: “Under Louisiana law, a tort victim may recover past (from injury to trial) and future (posttrial) medical expenses caused by tortious conduct. The victim must, however, establish he incurred past medical expenses in good faith as a result of his injury and future medical expenses will more probably than not be incurred. A plaintiff shows the probability of future medical expenses with supporting medical testimony and estimations of their probable cost. Importantly, future medical expenses must be established with some degree of certainty. Nevertheless, when the record establishes that future medical expenses will be necessary and inevitable, the court should not reject an award of future medical expenses on the basis that the record does not provide the exact value of the necessary expenses, if the court can examine the record and determine from evidence of past medical expenses and other evidence a minimum amount that reasonable minds could not disagree will be required. The proper standard for determining whether a plaintiff is entitled to future medical expenses is proof by a preponderance of the evidence the future medical expenses will be medically necessary. Notably, it is well acknowledged an award for future medical expenses is in great measure highly speculative and not susceptible to calculation with mathematical certainty. It follows, therefore, such awards generally do not involve determining the amounts, but turn on questions of credibility and inferences, i.e. whose experts or other witnesses does the jury believe?”

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or suffered a wrongful death in an accident, contact the Baton Rouge, Louisiana personal injury and accident attorneys at Dué, Guidry, Piedrahita & Andrews. Email Louisiana injury lawyers or call (800) 929-7481 to schedule a free consultation.