Regarding damages for the future consequences of a tort, an item is recoverable if the plaintiff proves by a reasonable certainty that the future consequence would have occurred or will occur, but courts should only award damages for future medical expenses when the expenses are reasonable and necessary.
Plaintiff, an 18-year-old man, sustained serious injuries after a Smithsonian Institution bus struck his car. Plaintiff suffered severe and permanent injuries, physical and mental disabilities, pain, emotional distress, disfigurement, deformity, and inconvenience as a result of the accident. Plaintiff filed a negligence action against the United States pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C.S. § 2671 et seq (FTCA).
Was plaintiff entitled to damages for the future consequences of his injuries?
The court determined that the United States was liable for the accident and resultant injuries to plaintiff. After determining the amount of future earnings that a plaintiff would have earned but for the tort, the court must discount the amount to its present value. The the court further determined that plaintiff was entitled to compensatory damages in the amount of $20 million for pain and suffering, past medical expenses, future lost wages, and future medical and related expenses. Plaintiff proved that he appreciated many of his deficits. The evidence demonstrated to a reasonable certainty that but for the accident plaintiff would have completed college and two years of graduate study. The court declined to adopt the request of the United States for a reversionary medical trust. Finally, the court granted plaintiff's request for taxation of guardian ad litem expenses as costs against the United States because, courts interpret Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(d) to allow taxation of guardian ad litem expenses as costs against the United States in Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) actions.