News & Articles

Wyoming County Jury Finds Minimal
Accident-Related Back Injury

In January 2015, after a 2 day trial in Tunkhannock, a jury agreed with the defendant that plaintiff sustained only soft tissue injuries in a vehicle accident.

aching backThe accident occurred when the defendant driver of the car pulled out in front of a truck, that had driven around a stopped vehicle. Plaintiff was a passenger in defendant's car. The car was T-boned on the highway.

The case was tried on a very limited issue. The car driver admitted that he was negligent. He also admitted that plaintiff was injured in the accident - soft tissue type injuries to his low back. The question was whether several disk herniations were accident related, or whether they were degenerative - caused by wear and tear and aging.

The jury was directed to find both negligence and causation. The only questions were, what injury was caused by the accident and what damages would be awarded.

Plaintiff clearly had lumbar strain - doctors testifying for both parties agreed on that. Orthopedic surgeon Barry Berger testified for defendant that plaintiff's strain had resolved within about 6 months of the accident, with physical therapy and time, and was gone by the time of the trial. He testified that plaintiff's disk problems were old, and unrelated to the accident.

Plaintiff's treating physiatrist disagreed, stating that both the lumbar strain and the disk herniations were caused by the automobile accident. He testified to possible future deterioration of the plaintiff's medical condition, and the potential that he would be disabled in the future. He said plaintiff's job and household restrictions were caused by the auto accident.

The jury's verdict reflected its belief that only the soft tissue injuries were accident related. For past pain and suffering and discomfort, the jury awarded $15,000. Nothing was awarded for future pain and suffering, medical treatment, or lost wages. Clearly the jury believed that the accident related injury had resolved.

The case was Murphy vs. Robinson. Gary Weber was the Mitchell Gallagher attorney involved in the defense of the case.