purchase, george & murphey.

purchase, george & murphey.


Recent Erie County Verdict Illustrates Challenge Faced By Injured People

June 14, 2010

I recently spoke to Atty. Greg Zimmerman who told me about a personal injury case tried to verdict before a jury this past trial term in Erie County. Purchase, George & Murphey, P.C., P.C. was not involved in this case in any way.

Atty. Zimmerman represented the at-fault driver in a motor vehicle accident. The injured plaintiff was represented by Atty. John McCandless . The injured plaintiff reportedly suffered fractures of both bones of her forearm which required surgical reduction and fixation, including the placement of bone screws and plates . She also suffered a non-displaced fracture of her right, great toe.

Plaintiff’s injuries were treated by Dr. Nick Stefanovski , a local orthopedic surgeon. Plaintiff was unable to work as a nurse for five months after her injury and was not able to return to full duty until seven months after her injury. Most of plaintiff’s wage loss was compensated through first party wage loss coverage but there was $3,300 in uncompensated wage loss that the parties stipulated to at trial.

The demand prior to trial was for the defendant driver’s insurance policy limits of $100,000. The offer prior to trial was $50,000.

Judge John Garhart presided over the trial. The only expert to testify for the plaintiff was Dr. Stefanovski. The defense called no experts. Indeed, the defense reportedly called no witnesses at all.

Plaintiff testified as did her husband and one condition witness. Plaintiff reported ongoing pain in her arm which was aggravated by activity. Plaintiff and her witnesses described limitations in plaintiff’s ability to engage in recreational activities that she enjoyed prior to her injuries.

The jury’s verdict included the $3,300 stipulated amount and $15,000 in non-economic injuries and nothing else.

Knowing the lawyers involved, I’d speculate the case was well-tried on both fronts.

I’m grateful to the jury for doing their best to do the right thing but this sort of result is a miscarriage of justice. Put aside the fact that the insurance company had valued the case at more than three times the verdict and put aside the fact that plaintiff is going to get nothing (or next to it) after the costs of litigation are deducted. $15,000 as a gross amount doesn’t even begin to fairly compensate this woman for an injury as profound as the one she endured.

Unfortunately, this sort of result is not unusual. It seems to argue in favor of offering a jury more guidance on the value of cases. Imagine how different the case would have been had the jury known of the parties’ settlement positions.