Friday, January 18, 2019

Personal Injury Medical Expenses and Wage Loss Evidentiary Issues Addressed by Pennsylvania Superior Court

In the case of Mader v. Duquesne Light Co., No. 609 W.D.A. 2018 (Pa. Super. Nov. 30, 2018 Murray, Bender, Shogan, J.) (Op. by Murray, J.), the Pennsylvania Superior Court addressed several trial issues pertaining to damages in a personal injury matter.   In the end, the court affirmed in part and reversed in part the trial court’s granting of post-trial motions after a verdict in favor of the Plaintiff.  

The court noted that Stipulations between the parties as to the amount of recoverable medical expenses are binding upon the court as well as upon the parties reaching such a stipulation. As such, the Superior Court ruled that an award of stipulated medical expenses was supported by the record.

The court also found that the jury’s award for future medical expenses was reasonable, even though it was closer to the projections offered by the defense in evidence.  

The Superior Court noted that the jury apparently resolved the conflicts in the testimony and found the Defendant’s evidence on future medical expenses to be more credible.   As such, the Superior Court found that the trial court’s granting of a new trial based upon alleged inadequacy of the future medical expenses award was an abuse of the trial court’s discretion.  

The court also noted that the granting of a new trial on one category of damages does not, in and of itself, justify a new trial on a different category of damages.   

In that regard, relative to the wage loss claims, the Superior Court found that, since the experts of both parties testified as to the Plaintiff’s inability to perform his job following the accident, the court found that the jury’s failure to award any lost wages to the Plaintiff justified a new trial in this particular category of damages.  

While the Superior Court found that an alleged failure on the part of the Plaintiff to seek alternative employment following an accident and thereby mitigate the damages alleged, can justify a lower award for wage loss, such evidence did not support a finding that the Plaintiff should not be awarded any wage losses at all.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK. 

I send thanks to Attorney James M. Beck of the Philadelphia offices of Reed Smith law firm for bringing this case to my attention. 

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