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ZK Results – Zimmer Kunz Successfully Defends Underinsured Motorist Claim

On October 24, 2023, after a two day trial, a jury in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania returned a verdict favorable to an insurance carrier in a claim for underinsured motorist benefits. Attorney Zachary G. Evans represented the insurance carrier at trial.

The underlying accident occurred while the plaintiff was a passenger in a friend’s vehicle. After settling the claims with the tortfeasor, the plaintiff pursued a claim for underinsured motorist benefits alleging eye, neck, back, and shoulder injuries as a result of the underlying accident. Significantly, the plaintiff claimed that the shoulder injury, a rotator cuff tear, was sustained while rehabilitating the back injuries. Under Pennsylvania law, an injury that occurs during treatment for injuries causally related to a motor vehicle accident are compensable absent malpractice.

The back and eye injuries were accepted prior to trial but the neck and shoulder injuries were disputed throughout the litigation. At trial, medical expert testimony identified the shoulder injury as degenerative in nature. Following closing argument, the jury returned a verdict finding that the accepted injuries were factually related to the underlying accident but the disputed injuries were not. The jury’s award for the accepted injuries was less than the amount of tort-credit provided by the third-party policy and the award was molded to $0.00 and judgment was entered in favor of the insurance carrier.