Joe Petka obtained a defense verdict in his second Philadelphia UIM jury trial this year. Mr. Petka represented a UIM carrier sued by its insured for UIM benefits. The plaintiff, an 83-year-old widower, totaled his vehicle in an intersectional collision, after another driver negligently made a left turn across his path of travel. The plaintiff alleged a cervical herniation and corresponding cervical radiculopathy. As a result of his injury, the plaintiff, who was previously independent, no longer left his house alone, and required his daughter to move in with him to act as his full- time caretaker. Plaintiff’s expert neurologist testified that the plaintiff needed spinal surgery to correct his symptoms and would incur $62,000 in future medical costs associated with the surgery.
For the defense, Mr. Petka stipulated to negligence and argued that the plaintiff’s injures did not constitute a serious impairment of a body function, which was required by the plaintiff’s limited tort policy. Specifically, Mr. Petka pointed out that the plaintiff’s limitations were primarily the result of other medical conditions unrelated to the accident. Mr. Petka also presented evidence that the cervical spine MRI findings were degenerative and not traumatic in origin. Furthermore, Mr. Petka argued that the plaintiff was not entitled to future medical costs because he had not had any treatment for the accident in over a year.
Ultimately, the jury agreed with Mr. Petka and, after 2 ½ hours of deliberation, entered a defense verdict in favor of the UIM carrier.