$875,000 AWARD-UNDERINSURED MOTORIST CLAIM-LEFT TURN COLLISION- RIGHT HIP DISLOCATION-IMPACTED COMMINUTED FRACTURE OF LEFT HIP-DROP FOOT SYNDROME-ANTALGIC GAIT-TOTAL HIP REPLACEMENT
This action was brought by a male, age 66 at the time of the accident, against the defendant driver and the plaintiff’s underinsured motorist carrier. The plaintiff claimed that the defendant driver negligently made a left turn in front of a vehicle in which the plaintiff was a passenger, causing a collision. The tortfeasor tendered a $100,000 underlying liability policy and the case proceeded to arbitration against the defendant underinsured motorist carrier. The defendant admitted that the tortfeasor was negligent in causing the accident, but disputed the extent of the plaintiff’s injuries and his claim for lost wages.
The plaintiff was a passenger in a vehicle driven by his wife on U.S. 9 in Laurel, Delaware. The defendant driver approached from the opposite direction and made a left turn in front of the host vehicle, causing a collision. Medical evidence established that the plaintiff suffered severe injuries to both hips in the collision. His right hip was dislocated and he suffered an impacted comminuted fracture of the acetabula and posterior wall of the left hip.
The plaintiff was admitted to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Unit where he was a patient for 17 days. Two surgical procedures were performed while the plaintiff was an in-patient. The first procedure involved an open reduction of the right hip. The second operation, performed later that day, involved stabilizing the fractures of the left hip with internal fixation and buttress plating of the posterior column. The plaintiff was subsequently transferred to the Mechanicsburg Rehabilitation Center where he was an in-patient for 30 days. After his discharge, records showed that the plaintiff underwent an eight month period of rehabilitation which involved out-patient physical therapy. The plaintiff’s physicians reported that due to the dislocated right hip, the plaintiff developed sciatic neuropathy of the right leg resulting in drop foot syndrome.
The plaintiff underwent a total right hip replacement 1.5 years post-accident and was hospitalized for three days for that procedure. The plaintiff is scheduled for a total left hip replacement later this year. The plaintiff’s medical experts also opined that if the plaintiff lives beyond his life expectancy, he may require a second hip revision ten years from now. The plaintiff was retired from the York County School District where he was Assistant Principal for 23 years.
The plaintiff claimed that he and a colleague had developed a residential care program for the treatment and counseling of troubled youths with drug and alcohol dependencies and behavioral problems. The plaintiff testified that he and his partner had a verbal agreement that the plaintiff would take a year off after his retirement from the school district and then begin working as an Executive Director for approximately 30 hours per week for the residential care program. The plaintiff contended that he was unable to assume this position and made a claim for lost wages.
The case was arbitrated with an award of $875,000, which was above and beyond the settlement made by the tortfeasor (no off-set). The case subsequently settled for the amount of the arbitration award.
This $875,000 award is reported to be the highest underinsured motorist arbitration award ever made in York County.
Despite the plaintiff’s age of 67, the plaintiff was able to introduce evidence that he enjoyed a very active lifestyle prior to the accident. The plaintiff performed such things as home improvements and modifications and testified that at the time of this accident, he was in the process of building an addition for his mother at her house and was contemplating construction of an addition to his own home. The plaintiff also owned two cars which he was planning to rebuild and restore, but contended his accident related injuries prevented him from doing so. While the plaintiff testified at arbitration hearing that he did not consider himself totally disabled, he alleged that the injuries had significantly compromised his active lifestyle. The plaintiff complained that he did not have the stamina he had prior to his injuries, fatigued quite easily and has not traveled nearly as much as he and his wife had planned before the accident.
The case was handled by Richard M. Jurewicz, Esquire of Galfand Berger. For more information on this case please contact him at [email protected].
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