Legal Memorandum: Recovery of Future Medical Expenses

Issue: Must a medical expert opinion state that a future knee replacement will be required ‘to a reasonable medical certainty’ to entitle future damages in an accident case?

Area of Law: Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Reasonable medical certainty; Damages; Medical expert
Jurisdiction: Minnesota
Cited Cases: 91 N.W.2d 178; 89 N.W.2d 629; 295 N.W.2d 504
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 11/01/2012

“To entitle an injured claimant to damages for future disability or surgery, there must be reasonable medical certainty with reference thereto.”  Dornberg v. St. Paul. C.R. Co., 91 N.W.2d 178, 185 (Minn. 1958).  However, reasonable medical certainty does not require that the testifying physician’s opinion be free from doubt or unequivocal.  Rather, “[t]he fact that he express[es] the opinion that such surgery might be necessary, which of course indicates less than an absolute conviction on the subject, would go to the weight of his opinion but would not deprive the jury of the right to consider it.”  Dornberg, 91 N.W.2d at 185; Derrick v. St. Paul. C.R. Co., 89 N.W.2d 629, 633-34 (Minn. 1958) (“The opinion of a medical expert based upon his examination of an injured claimant, as well as upon his knowledge of like injuries generally, to the effect that in all probability there will be a future recurrence of a present disability would seem to meet the requirement of reasonable certainty.”).  “In short, the plaintiff is entitled to an instruction on future damages if he or she has shown that such damage is more likely to occur than not to occur.”  Pietrzak v. Eggan, 295 N.W.2d 504, 507 (Minn. 1980).


Subscribe to Litigation Pathfinder

To get the full-text of this Legal Memorandum ... and more!

(Month-to-month and annual subscriptions available)