Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Courts Continue to Refuse to Look Into Crystal Ball in Terms of Future Medical Expenses Awards

In the recent Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas case of Knauss v. Deery, No. 2010 - Civil - 1619 (C.P. Lehigh Co. June 7, 2012 Johnson, J.), Judge J. Brian Johnson addressed a Defendant's post-trial motion which, in part, sought to reduce a Plaintiff's future medical expenses recovery under the provisions of Pennsylvania's Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law.

The Knauss case was a third party lawsuit arising out of a motor vehicle accident that occurred while the Plaintiff was within the scope and course of her employment.  After the Plaintiff obtained a verdict that included $28,000 in future medical expenses, the Defendant filed a post-trial motion to mold that portion of the verdict to zero.

The Defendant argued that although the Plaintiff's employer's worker's compensation insurance carrier most likely would be responsible for any future medical expenses allegedly related to the accident at issue, and thus, Plaintiff would be entitled to recover the same during trial as there would be a lien, if the worker's compensation insurance carrier should deny the claim at some point in the future, the future medical bills would be paid for, and or be payable by, Plaintiff's first party medical insurance benefits, which were $100,000.00 and which were not exhausted.

The trial court rejected this "speculation" that the worker's compensation carrier might stop paying medical benefits in the future and allowed the future medical expenses award to stand.  Anyone desiring a copy of this Knauss v. Deery decision may click this LINK.

I note that the court's rejection of this argument by the Defendant is similar to other courts' rejections of the speculative arguments by Plaintiffs that their future medical expenses awards should not be reduced by the amount of the remaining PIP benefits available under a Plaintiff's own automobile insurance carrier on account that that insurance company could go out of business in the future or may otherwise refuse to continue to pay such benefits.  For other Tort Talk posts on this future medical expenses issue click HERE.

I send thanks to the prevailing Plaintiff's attorney Jeremy D. Puglia of the Doylestown, PA law office of Drake, Hileman & Davis, P.C. for bringing this case to my attention.

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