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Minimal Impact Results in Minimal Award by Jury

In August 2017, a Centre County jury had difficulty buying the claim of a woman that back surgery was made necessary by a minor impact car accident. The case was tried by Gary Weber with Judge Grine presiding.

The case come about as result of a somewhat odd accident. Defendant was driving to a medical office building, when she inadvertently passed the driveway. She stopped along the side of the road, and then slowly backed toward the driveway. In the meantime, plaintiff had pulled to the end of the driveway, into a blind spot. Defendant's car struck the side of the plaintiff's car, causing very minor damage.

Negligence was admitted. Defendant also admitted causing plaintiff to have a minimal back strain. Plaintiff, however, claimed to have sustained a significant back injury that required fusion surgery and an extended period of convalescence. Plaintiff sought damages for pain and suffering, medical bills and lost wages, based on a teacher's salary of over $80,000 a year.

At trial, plaintiff did admit to participating in regular, strenuous physical exercise, including the TRX Challenge, between the time of the accident and the back surgery. She also traveled and worked without any difficulty. Defendant was able to prove that he back deteriorated after the accident due to normal wear and tear, and because of arthritic changes.

The jury did not accept the claim that the back arthritis was accident related or that the accident caused the need for surgery. The jury awarded $423, roughly one day's wage, and no other damages. The verdict was molded to zero as plaintiff had received first party lost wage benefits exceeding that amount.

  • Daggs vs. Miller