Underinsured Motorist Arbitration – Powers Obtains Defense Award

This underinsured motorist claim went to binding arbitration. In this case, the claimant was a real estate appraiser who claimed that he sustained hip, right knee and lower back injuries arising from a November 1997 motor vehicle accident. The claimant contended that he struck his right knee during the accident, resulting in a medial meniscus tear and damage to the lateral femoral condyle of the knee. He had undergone two right knee arthroscopic procedures and the medical testimony provided that he would probably require total knee replacement in the future. He claimed past medical expenses of $27,310.82, future medical expenses of $91,547.00, past income loss of $20,727.00 and future income loss of $90,488.50.

Brian’s medical experts, forensic anatomist Lawrence Elson, and orthopedist Gordon Lundy, testified that had the meniscus tear and lateral femoral condyle injuries occurred at the time of the accident, the claimant would have had immediate significant pain and objective signs of injury. Dr. Lundy testified that it was possible that he sustained a lumbar sprain or strain as a result of the accident. The medical records showed that a few hours after the accident, Mohamed saw his primary care physician who reported no reference to any right knee complaints or findings and only noted lower back and hip complaints. Six days after the accident, the claimant began physical therapy and at that time complained of right knee pain and swelling.

The accident reconstruction experts for both sides agreed that the underinsured motorist’s speed at impact was 15 miles per hour.

The underlying insurer paid its policy limits of $100,000 to the claimant. The arbitrator awarded total damages of $10,000. Due to the underlying third-party settlement, the net award was zero.

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