Joe Petka Wins Trial with $500,000 in Economic Damages at Stake

Philadelphia trial attorney Joe Petka obtained a defense verdict in a Philadelphia UIM jury trial.  The case involved a chain reaction rear-end accident on I-76.  The plaintiff was a 37-year-old married material handler from South Philadelphia.  He had a $75,000 full tort UIM policy, and the tortfeasor tendered his $15,000 in policy limits prior to trial. The plaintiff proceeded to trial against the UIM carrier alone.

The Plaintiff was diagnosed with an L5-S1 disc herniation with L-5 radiculopathy, left ankle tibiotalar joint/infra malleolar peritendinitis, and left ankle post-traumatic arthritis.  He began treating within days of the accident, and treated up until the time of the trial, receiving injections in both his lower back and ankle.  The plaintiff missed 2 ½ months of work as a material handler following the accident. He was ultimately advised by his podiatrist to quit his job because of ongoing ankle pain and to consider surgical repair.  As a result of the career change, the plaintiff hired an economist who concluded that he had a $500,000 loss of earning capacity.  Both the plaintiff’s podiatrist and a disability evaluator testified at trial.

For the defense, Mr. Petka argued that the physical damage to the plaintiff’s vehicle and plaintiff’s behavior after the accident was inconsistent with his alleged injuries.  Mr. Petka also impeached the plaintiff on several inconsistent statements.  During a very aggressive cross-examination, the plaintiff admitted that his testimony on direct about never having a prior accident was incorrect.  The plaintiff also testified that he could no longer work overtime because of the accident and Mr. Petka impeached plaintiff with his work records.

A jury of 6 women and 5 men accepted Mr. Petka’s arguments and found that the plaintiff did not have any compensable injuries. (One juror was excused for personal reasons during the course of the trial.)