Plaintiff sought damages of over $1,000,0000 in a garden variety Rhode Island Car Accident ‘whiplash’ rear-ender, but was awarded $4500 by a penny pinching jury. The trier of fact only awarded $165 for medical bill reimbursement despite the fact that testimony in the negligence cause of action was that medical treatment for the injuries amounted to $10,581.50!
Adding insult to injury, the $165 isn’t even enough to cover the Rhode Island Superior Court Filing Fee. Read The decision here: COLLEEN WOLF : VS. ANDREY MALYUTA : C.A. No. KC 10-1109 (Please note that this automobile accident case is not binding precedent on the RI Supreme Court)
RI automobile accident
(Editor’s Note: Did the Plaintiffs excessive demand in closing arguments to the Jury cause a backlash? Did the jury perceive the injured victim and her Rhode Island Personal Injury Attorney as a greedy and issue a punishment as a result? Perhaps, the jury did not buy what this victim and her tort attorney was selling, that she had real serious injuries as a result of the RI rear-end mishap.) As far as the Trial Judge was concerned, he believed that “One hundred sixty-five dollars represents a reasonable finding that only a portion of the medical expenses, as shown by affidavit, should be awarded as medical damages.”)
Testimony not credible
The judge supported the Juries belief that Plaintiff’s testimony of years of persistent pain was not credible. The trial judge agreed with that the paltry sum and determined the “outcome produced was a fair and just verdict” and that the crash was a “somewhat minor rear-end accident” and that the “minimal nature of the impact was supported by the photographs of the damage caused to the vehicles in question.” Id.
1 million was excessive
The trial justice determined that the 1 million demand was “excessive” and the modest verdict of $4500 was “more reasonable.” The Providence Superior Court Justice was dismissive of the ridiculous demand of the RI personal injury lawyer and opined that it was “not justified by the credible evidence.” The jurist noted that the Plaintiff did “yoga two times per week and ran on a regular basis.”The judge believed that the jury was reasonable in not finding plaintiff’s claim of permanent injury was not credible
Facts of rear end auto accident
In 2007, There was a rear-end automobile accident in North Kingstown, RI. The injured motorist offered medical affidavits into evidence at the injury trial. These affidavits were a combination of treating physicians as well as a treatment facility. According to the trial justice this was a standard whiplash injury that was “subjective”. The diagnosis of the Plaintiff by her medical providers was a cervical strain. There were no findings of a herniated disk or spinal cord injuries nor were there reports of a traumatic head injury. This was not a negligence trial per se since “The Defendant agreed and stipulated that he was negligent in the operation of his vehicle and that his negligence caused the accident.” The Providence Superior Court trial was about the amount of compensation / damages the auto accident victim was entitled to.
Failure to utilize ambulance
After the collision, the Plaintiff declared that she was “fine” but testified at the trial on the merits that minutes after the motor vehicle wreck she suffered headaches and swelling. The Plaintiff did not leave the scene of the auto mishap via ambulance and was not transported to the emergency room. She drove her vehicle from the scene of the crash.
Plaintiff testified that she injured her left shoulder and was unable to utilize it as well as general pain and suffering. The auto crash victim did not work the following day and instead visited a clinic. She was prescribed prescription medication as a result of her pain as well as prescribed a muscle relaxant. A doctor gave her a cervical collar and suggested she visit a physical therapist. “The therapist performed a therapeutic ultrasound”. She was also provided a “package of home exercises consisting primarily of stretches for her neck, shoulder and upper back.”
Maximum medical improvement
“She was also prescribed hot packs, which she testified she used three times a day. She took the prescribed muscle relaxant, but did not take the pain medication, which she attributed to her reluctance to take prescription medicine for pain. She continued to stay out of work the succeeding four days.” The trial Judge believed the jury was reasonable in deciding that the plaintiff reached maximum medical improvement in May or July 2007 and not in July of 2011 as she and her expert testified to. The victim of the crash offered no testimony as to lost wages nor was there any claim for scarring, emotional injury or leg injuries. “It would be entirely consistent with the evidence, the reasonable inferences drawn therefrom, and the Court’s instructions, to award damages attributable to medical expenses incurred only prior to Maximum Medical Improvement”
Post by Rhode Island Car Accident Lawyer David Slepkow