South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Damages Not Reduced by Payment Received by Plaintiff for Later Injury
Description

Appeals court held that an injured plaintiff had been awarded proper damages by a jury and that, under the collateral source rule, the damages would not be reduced because a second accident caused the plaintiff to receive compensation for some of the same injuries.

Topic Torts
Key Words

Negligence; Damages; Earning Capacity; Collateral Source; Workers' Compensation

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

Palmer was at fault when she hit Nunez, a pedestrian, while driving. A jury awarded Nunez damages for medical expenses, non-economic damages, and $31,000 for lost earning capacity due to his injury. Nine months later, Nunez was injured on the job and declared 100 percent disabled under workers' compensation. Palmer claimed that the $31,000 award should be reduced because of workers' compensation. The trial judge rejected that argument. Palmer appealed.

Decision

Affirmed. The assessment of damages for lost earning capacity does not depend on the plaintiff's receipt of any wages at all because it is the ability to earn that governs the amount of damages to which a plaintiff is entitled. A defendant is not entitled to be relieved from any part of the compensation due for injuries resulting from a tort where the payment comes from a collateral source, such as workers' compensation, that is wholly independent of the defendant. The jury's estimate of lost earning capacity was justified and that judgment is not reduced by workers' compensation later received due to a different injury.

Citation

Nunez v. Palmer, ---A.2d--- (96 Conn. App. 707, App. Ct., Conn., 2006)

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