Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Pennsylvania Superior Court's Latest Take on the Limited Tort Question

In its most recent take on the limited tort question, the Pennsylvania Superior Court reversed a trial court’s granting of summary judgment in favor of a Defendant on the grounds that there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether or not the Plaintiff sustained serious injuries as a result of the accident in the case of Cadena v. Latch, 2013 Pa. Super. 266, No. 1891 MDA 2012 (Pa. Super. Oct. 4, 2013)(Gantman, Allen, Mundy, JJ) (Opinion by Mundy, J.).  

In this matter, the Plaintiff alleged that she was diagnosed with eight (8) injuries which her treating doctor related to the subject motor vehicle accident.  The records were also found by the Superior Court to be replete with testimony by the Plaintiff with regards to how her daily life was altered due to her pain and limitations.  Although the Plaintiff had stopped medical treatment in 2008, she offered testimony that she, as of that time, did not have the financial means to continue to treat. 

The Pennsylvania Superior Court noted that the Motor Vehicle Code defines “serious injury” as “[a] personal injury resulting in death, serious impairment of body function, or permanent serious disfigurement.”   The court reiterated that the test focuses not in the injuries themselves, but on how the injuries affect a particular body function. 

It appears that the defense in this matter primarily relied upon the fact that not only had the appellant had ceased medical treatment but that she was declared to have been recovered from all injuries by 2011, which was about 3 ½ years after the subject accident.  

In reversing the entry of summary judgment on the limited tort question, the Pennsylvania Superior Court emphasized that an impairment need not be permanent in order to be serious.   The Court noted that, where questions of fact and testimony remain, the question of whether a Plaintiff suffered a serious injury should be left for the jury.  As such, the trial court’s entry of summary judgment in favor of the Defendant was reversed.  

Anyone desiring a copy of this Opinion may click this LINK.

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