Randy Burch, Esquire successfully filed a motion for summary judgment based on Plaintiffs selection of the limited tort option. The Plaintiffs (husband and wife) commenced suit in Schuylkill County for alleged personal injuries arising from a single car accident when Plaintiff/wife was riding as a passenger in Defendant’s vehicle. The Plaintiff/husband asserted a consortium claim. The parties agreed that Plaintiffs’ right to recovery was subject to the limited tort provisions of 75 Pa.C.S. 1702 and 1705(d). Plaintiff claimed that she continued to suffer from lower back, left knee, and neck problems from the accident and that she was precluded from engaging in various household and recreational activities due to pain.
The Court noted that Plaintiff was required to present some evidence which may establish that she suffered a serious impairment of body function as a result of the subject accident and applied the standard set forth in Washington v. Baxter, 719 A.2d 733 (Pa. 1998). The Court found that Plaintiff failed to provide detailed information concerning her injuries and treatment in discovery and found Plaintiff’s responses to written discovery and deposition testimony to be vague. Also, the Court reviewed the medical evidence finding that Plaintiff had complaints of headache, neck and back pain immediately following the accident with an initial assessment of contusion. After the accident, the record showed that Plaintiff was discharged from physical therapy due to her non-compliance. A record from the treating doctor suggested a complete recovery from her alleged injuries at one point. The record also supported a finding that Plaintiff suffered from various non-accident related ailments like COPD, diabetes and other illnesses. Additionally, there was evidence that Plaintiff had prior and subsequent falls that resulted in some injury but were not adequately addressed by Plaintiff in discovery or in her doctor’s medical report. Furthermore, the Court noted that the report of Plaintiff’s treating doctor failed to demonstrate any objective medical evidence of a serious impairment of body function and failed to identify any causal relationship between the accident and Plaintiff’s complaints. As a result, the Court concluded that it would be futile to hold a trial on whether Plaintiff suffered a serious impairment of body function because Plaintiff failed to present sufficient proof to support her claim and judgment was entered in favor of the Defendant.