Bligh v. Travelers Home & Marine Insurance Co.
A jury can award damages for medical expenses and pain and suffering to an individual injured in a motor-vehicle accident. In February 2008, the 19-year-old plaintiff, Kathleen Bligh, stopped at a traffic light on her return home from a part-time job. Another driver allegedly rear-ended Bligh's Nissan Murano sports utility vehicle. Blight's mother drove to the scene and claimed that the Nissan's rear bumper and tail pipes were damaged. The tortfeasor allegedly admitted that she was not paying attention. Police gave the tortfeasor a warning, for following too closely. The Blighs received $1,115, to pay for damage to the Nissan. Although Bligh did not report any personal injuries at the scene, her doctor, William Pesce, claimed that she injured her back and sustained a thoracolumbar strain and a lumbosacral disk protrusion. Pesce rated the plaintiff with a 12 percent permanent partial disability to the whole person. Another doctor, Eric Grahling, rated the plaintiff with a 6 percent permanent partial disability to the thoracic spine. The plaintiff testified that she suffers from muscle spasms and receives epidural injections, that she is unable to skate and that she has difficulty sleeping. The defendant argued that the plaintiff pursued the most expensive type of treatment and exaggerated claims of pain and suffering. In 2013, a jury awarded the plaintiff $77,000. The plaintiff moved to set aside and argued that a defense witness was allowed to testify during the plaintiff's presentation of evidence and to interrupt the plaintiff's case. The court found that the order of presentation was changed legitimately, because of bona fide scheduling difficulties. There was no prejudice to the plaintiff. The plaintiff also moved to set aside because the defense was allowed to cross-examine the plaintiff about pain medicine prescribed for a 2007 motor-vehicle accident. That information was relevant to whether the 2008 motor-vehicle accident caused all of the plaintiff's injuries. The plaintiff failed to prove prejudice, and the court denied the plaintiff's motion to set aside the verdict. The tortfeasor's insurance paid $50,000, and the court granted the defendant's motion to subtract $50,000 and to reduce the verdict to $27,000.