Our client was driving her Ford Explorer Southbound on Township Line Road in Limerick Township, Pennsylvania when Philip C. Smith, driving a 1999 Ford F-250 in the Northbound direction of Township Line Road, crossed the center line of the highway causing a head-on collision with our client.
Mr. Smith was charged with driving under the influence at the scene of the accident. These charges were later dismissed at the District Justice level. The truck Mr. Smith was driving was emblazoned with the name of Lorie’s Landscape Design. Lorie’s Landscape Design is a landscaping business that both Philip C. Smith and his wife owned. Mr. Smith claimed that he was not in the course and scope of his work at the time that the accident occurred.
As a result of the accident, our client was taken by helicopter to Hahnemann Hospital. However, she was discharged that day from the Emergency Room. Because of continuing chest pain, her treating physician, Dr. Barry Schnall, requested further diagnostic studies which revealed an angulated fracture involving the second sternal segment.
Our client also suffered from an aggravation of pre-existing low back pain radiating into her lower extremities. It was the recommendation of Dr. Schnall, after a period of failed physical therapy that she undergo a trial of epidural injections by Dr. Joseph Paz. These epidural injections were also unsuccessful and our client was ultimately evaluated by neurosurgeon, Eugene Salkind, M.D.
Dr. Salkind’s impression was that she was suffering an exacerbation of lumbar degenerative joint disease and recommended that she undergo lumbar fluoroscopy and three facet block injections. After those procedures did not alleviate our client’s pain, Dr. Salkind performed an L4-L5 laminectomy. Dr. Salkind was of the opinion that our client experienced an exacerbation of her lumbar degenerative joint disease as a direct result of the accident and that the laminectomy was reasonable and necessary due to the injury sustained in that accident.
Mr. Philip Smith, insured by State Farm Insurance Company tendered its $50,000.00 policy limit. Further, Baratta, Russell & Baratta made the argument that since Lorie’s Landscaping insured a 1979 International Dump Truck for $50,000.00, that such policy was applicable to cover Philip C. Smith for his actions on the day of this accident, which plaintiff alleged was in the course and scope of his employment. Progressive ultimately settled the claim on behalf of Lorie’s Landscape Design for its policy limit of $50,000.
Our client was insured with Deerbrook Insurance Company for underinsured motorist coverage in the amount of $100,000. Within months of resolving the matter with the third party defendants, Deerbrook Insurance Company tendered its $100,000 policy limit. The claim was, therefore, resolved for a total payment of $200,000, all of the insurance coverage available.
Attorney – Anthony J. Baratta of Baratta, Russell & Baratta