There have been a lot of interesting personal injury and wrongful death verdicts and settlements in 2015 in Pennsylvania. Here are five verdicts you will find of particular interest.
$450,000 Verdict – A woman is descending the stairs at her row home when she slips on one of the middle steps. She reaches for the handrail, but just misses it, causing her to fall down the remaining stairs. The woman calls an ambulance which transports her to the emergency room. At the ER, she is diagnosed with a fractured shinbone and a tear of the quadriceps. She has to receive care after the fall given that her leg is immobilized. After the accident, she sues the property-owner, alleging negligent maintenance of the stairs. In her lawsuit, she brings up the fact that she had told the property-manager about how slippery the stairs were on two occasions. At trial, her stair-expert suggests that the stairs were covered with too much polyurethane. This convinces the jury who awards her $450,000.
$207,940 Verdict – A postal worker is delivering mail in her mail truck when a Lexus sedan suddenly crashes into the front of her vehicle. The Lexus was traveling in the opposite direction as the postal worker. She strikes her face on the steering wheel, causing facial and chest pain on her left side. An ambulance transports her to the ER where X-Rays come back normal. She is still experiencing pain though, so she seeks treatment and physical therapy. Her primary care physician determines that she suffered disc herniation and a concussion from the accident. She sues the other driver, who admits liability. In addition to the physical injuries, the plaintiff complains that she is unable to spend quality time with her dying mother as a result of the injuries and physical therapy. She also claims that she is unable to do the recreational activities that she used to be able to do. At trial, the defense does not use a medical expert, but instead just claims that the injuries are not as severe as they were made out to be. The jury returns a verdict for $207,940.
$488,800 Verdict – A 58-year-old man walks into a grocery store to do some shopping. He reaches for a basket when he suddenly slips and falls on a puddle of water that had accumulated from a leaky roof. He strikes the back of his head when he lands on the floor, which causes a significant bump. An ambulance takes him to the ER where MRIs are administered but come back negative. He undergoes physical therapy for disc herniation, requiring him to miss work intermittently. The man decides to sue the store’s owner, suggesting that employees had notice about the roof problem for years but did not address it. At trial, store employees testified about this issue, and the only real dispute was between the store and the store’s parent company as to who was responsible for satisfying a potential judgment. Still, they also contest whether the plaintiff’s spinal injuries were actually the result of a preexisting condition that stemmed from a surgery that occurred many years before the accident. In the end, the jury deliberates for 5 hours and awards the plaintiff a judgment of $488,000.
$4,875,200 Verdict – A 50-year-old woman presents to a hospital with intense fever and pain to her lower back and legs. She had undergone a procedure to remove part of her vertebrae to relieve pressure on her nerves a few weeks prior. The ER doctors diagnose her with an infection after she was unable to secure an appointment with the doctor who performed the surgery. She was also unable to get an appointment with an internist, so she had to remain at the ER hospital until she was finally transported to a different hospital the next day. At that point her condition began to deteriorate, requiring her to undergo surgery on the infected area. Unfortunately, it was too late as bacteria had already destroyed parts of her spine, rendering her a quadriplegic. She sues the hospital, ER doctor, and the chief resident of the hospital where she was transported after leaving the ER. She claims that the hospital did not provide adequate care and that she should have received immediate surgery to remove the bacteria. Specifically, her experts suggested that there was neither an adequate triage system in place nor appropriate record-keeping to document her condition. The various defendants blame one another for the plaintiff’s injuries, but stress that she should have received immediate surgery upon presenting to the ER. In addition to her paraplegia, she must take medication, which continually makes her drowsy. She also lives near a school, so the sound of buses constantly reminds her of the job that she once had and can no longer perform. The jury found the defendants equally liable for the plaintiff’s injuries, returning a verdict for $4,875,200.
$5,000,000 Settlement – A school employee is walking the halls of her school when a company putting tiles down asks her to open a door. Unknown to her, they had just put a slippery surface down right in front of the door. She slips on the surface and lands on her back. 24 hours later, she experiences pain in her lower back and hips, so she presents to her medical provider, who puts her on physical therapy. A later MRI reveals that the woman actually suffered fractures and tears in the tissue around the hip joint. This leads to doctors diagnosing her with complex pain syndrome, which causes her pain and discomfort throughout her entire leg. She suffers a permanent limp that prevents her from returning to work. She sues the tile company, alleging that they invited her into a construction zone without taking safety precautions, which eventually led to her injuries. Prior to trial, she settles with the defendant for $5,000,000.