In a recent Pennsylvania injury case, a federal jury awarded a verdict of more than $1 million to the injured plaintiff of an underinsured motorist claim. The victim sought compensation for the neck, back and shoulder injuries sustained in a collision caused by the negligence of the named defendant.
The lawyer for the plaintiff, Schmidt Kramer Attorney Michael Kosik said that it is rare for an uninsured motorist case to end up going to trial. However, Kosik said the insurance carrier would not agree to offer more than $250,000.
The Accident That Led to the Plaintiff’s Injuries
Plaintiff Kerry Ponder was a 53-year-old electrician in 2016. While driving a pickup truck for work, the plaintiff was involved in a collision with another driver. The defendant, who was driving a vehicle hitched to a trailer, pulled out from a stop sign right in front of Ponder’s vehicle. Ponder was unable to stop in time to avoid crashing into that vehicle.
The truck Ponder was driving was totaled, and the other driver’s vehicle also sustained extensive damage. Ponder was transported to the hospital and initially diagnosed with neck and back strains, as well as a head contusion. Follow-up care revealed additional damage to the victim’s cervical spine. The plaintiff also sustained a right shoulder sprain, rotator cuff injury and impingement syndrome.
Ponder underwent extensive therapy, including steroid injections and right shoulder arthroscopy in 2017. Recently, Ponder also had spinal surgery, including anterior fusion and discectomy surgeries.
Due to these injuries, Ponder has been unable to return to work since the accident.
Ponder initially accrued a workers’ compensation lien in the amount of $231,667. In addition to the at-fault driver’s insurance policy of $50,000, Ponder’s employer sought additional recovery via an underinsured motorist claim through Charter Oak Fire Insurance.
When representing the case, Attorney Kosik said the carrier tried to minimize the soft-tissue injuries, using that phrase to make them seem minor. Medical experts gave testimony for both sides, but in the end, the arguments came down to two major points. First, Ponder had a history of working steadily 50 to 70 hours per week before the accident occurred, and second, there were no preexisting conditions on record.
Kosik says the jury deliberated for less than two hours before coming to a decision. On 19 October, the jury for the case awarded Kerry Ponder $1,000,800.
The plaintiff’s legal representative, Schmidt Kramer attorney Michael Kosik said the win shows why more attorneys should not be afraid to present UIM cases in court. He says, “If you’re not getting fair value, you definitely should take the chance. It’s the only way to push them to give more money on these cases.”