As a personal injury lawyer in Florida, I have over 26 years of experience representing individuals and families who have been injured in traffic accidents across the state. One of the most important factors that can affect how much money car accident victims may ultimately be able to recover involves what they do and say at the accident scene.
It you are injured in a traffic accident, it is vitally important that you seek and obtain proper medical care–as soon as possible. If you have been seriously injured, we strongly recommend allowing fire rescue to transport you to the nearest emergency room, where you can be properly diagnosed and treated, rather than waiting to figure out when, where, and by whom you can be seen. We have found that the best course of action is not to delay immediate medical care.
It is also very important to understand that what you tell the EMS personnel about how your accident occurred can often be used against you in your subsequent case if for any reason your version of the events changes over time. Such was the case for Gerardo Condado-Perez and Nancy Rodriguez-Ventura, who were injured in an accident on I-75 in Pasco County, Florida, when they were hit by a truck.
Dispute of Blame in a Car Accident in Florida
Our personal injury law firm did not represent these plaintiffs, but according to the court records, statements made by Mr. Condado-Perez to the EMS about the facts of the accident became the subject of a trial and subsequent appeal to Florida’s 2nd District Court of Appeal. The accident occurred when a large service truck owned by Diesel Construction collided with a Ford Expedition carrying Mr. Condado and Ms. Rodriguez, causing them both severe injuries. It is undisputed that there was a mattress blocking the northbound lanes of the interstate, which forced traffic either to stop or swerve unexpectedly. Mr. Condado and Ms. Rodriguez sued the driver and owner of the truck, alleging that Mr. Condado did nothing to contribute to their accident.
Not surprisingly, the truck driver claimed that the accident was caused entirely by Mr. Condado when he allegedly swerved, suddenly and unexpectedly–for no apparent reason–making the collision unavoidable. Each party hired an accident reconstructionist, who came up with theories supporting each party’s respective version of the case.
The critical evidentiary ruling at trial regarded what Mr. Condado allegedly stated to a Pasco County Fire Rescue paramedic and emergency medical technician at the accident scene. The paramedic provided medical care to both Mr. Condado and Ms. Rodriguez, and Mr. Condado then spoke with him about the accident. Based on their conversation, the paramedic prepared an EMS Report on the date of the accident and quoted Mr. Condado as stating that he swerved to avoid a mattress in the road, lost control of the car, and went off the road.
How EMS Reports Are Used In Your Case
Here, the EMS Report was introduced into evidence by Mr. Condado; however, Mr. Condado’s lawyers filed a motion in limine, to prevent the statement about how the accident happened from being introduced as evidence to the jury, arguing that the statement within the report was not “trustworthy” because it had referred to Mr. Condado as Ms. Rodriguez’s “husband,” even though the two were not married.
Mr. Condado also argued that his statement was inadmissible because it lacked a proper foundation, because he is allegedly not proficient as an English speaker and denied ever making the statement at all. Of course, the defendant wanted the jury to hear the statement and contended that the statement was admissible as an exception to the hearsay rule, as a spontaneous statement, excited utterance, and admission by a party opponent.1
The Jury’s Verdict
The trial judge agreed with Mr. Condado and found the statement inadmissible. At the close of the evidentiary phase, the case was submitted to the jury, which awarded a significant amount of money to Ms. Rodriguez and Mr. Condado.2 The defense moved for a new trial, their motion was denied, and they filed an appeal, contending that the trial court had abused its discretion by excluding Mr. Condado’s statement in the EMS Report about how his accident occurred. The appellate court agreed, finding that the trial judge abused the court’s discretion in keeping out the statement, resulting in a “miscarriage of justice”–or essentially wiping away the entire verdict.3
The primary basis for the reversal was that the appellate court found that the report should have been admitted because, the appeals court concluded, it was a relevant “admission” made by Mr. Condado and offered against him.
This case is symbolic of why it is so important to be careful when speaking with not just the defendant, witnesses, and the police, but also EMT personnel at the scene of an accident. We are not suggesting that you should ever say anything that is untrue, but you must fully understand that what you say often will come back and can and will be used by the defense in your case. This is so even though the person making the admission against interest subsequently denies making such an admission.4 Since this statement was part of Mr. Condado’s medical records, they are presumed to be trustworthy, especially since Mr. Condado introduced the record into evidence himself.
INJURIES IN FLORIDA CAR ACCIDENTS–CALL 1-866-597-4529
Our personal injury law firm in Miami accepts cases across the State of Florida, from Jacksonville to Key West. While our principal office is located in Miami, Florida, we have successfully represented people who have been involved in serious traffic accidents from around the world–including truck, motorcycle, bicycle, and pedestrian personal injury accident claims.
We provide free initial legal consultations 24/7–at your home, in the hospital, or by telephone toll-free at 1-866-597-4529, locally at 305-441-0440, by email firstname.lastname@example.org or SKYPE. Call today and speak with an experienced personal injury attorney who knows how to investigate your claim, assist you in finding the proper medical care, and hold the insurance company accountable to pay you the full value of your claim. Call us today–we are ready to help you.
|↑1||Sections 90.803(1), (2), and (18), Florida Statutes (2015)|
|↑2||For Ms. Rodriguez $330,557.65 for past and future medical expenses and $75,000 for pain and suffering; and Mr. Condado, $193,486.35 for past and future medical expenses and $50,000 for pain and suffering.|
|↑3||RING POWER CORPORATION; DIESEL CONSTRUCTION COMPANY; and MARK DAVID QUANDT, Appellants, v. GERARDO CONDADO-PEREZ and NANCY RODRIGUEZ-VENTURA, Appellees. 2nd District. Case Nos. 2D16-353 & 2D16-397. Consolidated. Opinion filed April 7, 2017. Appeal from the Circuit Court for Pasco County; Linda H. Babb, Judge.|
|↑4||Seaboard Coast Line, 253 So. 2d at 452; see also Charles W. Ehrhardt, Florida Evidence § 803.18 (2014 ed.)|