A jury in Beaver County awarded a woman $1.2 million in <em><a href="http://blog.wcmlaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Alviani-v.-Horace-Mann.pdf">Alviani v. Horace Mann Insurance</a></em>. The suit arose from in a July 18, 2012 when the plaintiff, Britney Alviani, was the passenger in her boyfriend’s car when it was struck head-on by Jodi Morrison. Alviani was thrown forward where she struck the windshield and suffered a laceration to her face and multiple abrasions and bruises. She also suffered injuries to her right knee and elbow. According to the pre-trial memorandum, Morrison was driving under the influence and left her lane of travel. She was later convicted of DUI.
Follow-up care showed that Alviani had a significant injury to her right elbow. She underwent two surgeries and various other medical treatments and was diagnosed with chronic pain syndrome. Plaintiff’s counsel employed a medical expert who opined that Alviani’s injury is permanent and that she will not be able to return to her job as a barber’s apprentice. The pre-trial memo also stated that Alviani is unable to lift more than one pound and has trouble engaging in recreational activities.
The defense team employed their own expert who stated that Alviani was able to be gainfully employed and pointed to her own testimony which stated that she was currently working on a full-time basis and earning more than a barber’s apprentice.
Morrison only carried $15,000 in liability coverage but Alviani was insured under five additional auto policies which provided $50,000 in UIM benefits each. Alviani requested $65,000 for lost wages, $892,000 - $1.14 million for lost earning capacity, and a $250,000 UIM claim. The defense offered a final settlement of $115,000.
After a four day trial, the jury deliberated for five hours and returned a $1.19 million verdict which included $65,488 in past lost earnings, $1 million in lost earning capacity, and $100,000 for pain and suffering. Defense counsel called the verdict an “aberration” and says that he will appeal.
This case demonstrates the potential for high damages if there is a finding of a permanent injury and also the ability of plaintiffs to stack other insurers through UIM coverage. Thanks to Peter Cardwell for his contribution to this post. Please email <a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org">Brian Gibbons</a> with any questions.