Amanda Kisor and Ron Gault obtained a favorable verdict for their client, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company. The suit involved a claim of UM/UIM benefits against State Farm. Originally, a State Farm insured tortfeasor was a co-defendant in the suit for claims of negligence and wantonness, but the plaintiff had settled with the tortfeasor for the underlying BI limits available of $200,000.
Liability was stipulated to in the trial, and medical bills were not introduced into evidence. During their opening arguments, counsel for Plaintiff told the jury they were not claiming medical bills or lost wages, so there was much discussion about this fact during the trial.
As a result of the accident, the plaintiff sustained a fractured sternum that healed without surgery, but required a 5 day hospital stay, 2 days of which were spent in the CR-ICU. After release from the hospital, he spent a month in his lazy boy, and had two follow up visits. He had not sought treatment for the sternum fracture since 2016. The plaintiff also aggravated a prior injury to his right arm and bilateral shoulders, pain of which he attributed to a prior ulnar neuropathy injury and surgery, but that had gotten much worse after the accident. He underwent a few months of physical therapy and two cervical injections, but had not sought treatment for that injury since 2016.
The plaintiff also sustained an injury described as a “traumatic macular whiplash” to his eyes, and suffered a loss in vision as a result. While the initial injury had “healed” shortly after the accident, doctor testimony showed that the plaintiff would always suffer from side effects, described as a decrease in contrast sensitivity and color saturation. However, the plaintiff’s corrected vision post-accident was still 20/20 -1, and testimony elicited during the trial showed that he still worked his same job, still drove himself, and otherwise had gotten back to “pre-accident status.”
After a two day trial, the jury deliberated for about 2 hours and 45 minutes before returning a verdict in favor of the plaintiff for $275,000. The UIM limits available were $175,000. With the setoff for the underlying BI settlement, the last offer already advanced to the plaintiff, and the medical payments benefits that had already been paid to the plaintiff, State Farm had the judgment reduced to $30,000. The plaintiff’s last pre-suit demand was for $125,000.