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Court Upholds $650,000 Personal Injury Award

The Indiana Court of Appeals recently upheld a jury verdict awarding Nathan Orlando $650,000 for knee injuries he received while working at a landfill. The defendant, MBI, had appealed the award as being excessive and based on insufficient evidence, but the Court disagreed. On October 1, 2008, Nathan Orlando was operating a tipper machine at a landfill when a semi-truck accidentally backed up into the machine causing Nathan to fall and strike the right side of his head and his right knee into the machine. Immediately after the accident, Nathan began complaining of pain in his right knee and had difficulty walking and climbing stairs. Nathan underwent several weeks of physical therapy and medical treatment and was eventually cleared to return to work without restrictions. However, Nathan and his wife both testified that Nathan still experienced pain in his right knee and had difficulty performing his normal daily activities. Nathan testified that because his knee caused him pain and would lock up, he could no longer coach his kid’s sports, could not run and play with his kids like before, could not walk the dog or go on hiking trips with his wife, and still had issues climbing stairs and taking long car rides. Although the semi-truck owner admitted he was entirely at fault, he argued that Nathan’s injuries were not permanent, were caused in part by a pre-existing injury, and that the verdict was based on jury prejudice against his company. MBI pointed to Nathan’s workers compensation lien of $9,602 as a benchmark for what the jury verdict should have resembled. The appellate court, however, in reviewing the testimony of both Nathan and his doctors, determined that it was reasonable for a jury to find that the accident caused Nathan’s injuries and not some prior injury. Although his doctor admitted that some of Nathan’s knee injuries could be either chronic or post-traumatic in nature, Nathan testified that prior to the accident he had never experienced knee pain before. The Court said it was reasonable for a jury to determine that Nathan’s injuries were caused by the accident. The Court also held that the jury award was not excessive or prejudicial because the jury was allowed to consider the nature and extent of Nathan’s injuries, whether they were permanent or temporary, the value of his lost wages, the physical pain he suffered and will suffer in the future, his medical expenses, his potential life expectancy, and his previous medical conditions, if any. Because Nathan was only 31 at the time of the accident and testified as to his current condition and his difficulty with daily activities, the Court said it was reasonable for the jury to find that Nathan would continue to struggle with knee pain for the next forty years or more. As such, $650,000 was not an excessive jury award. As illustrated above, even when a person admits to being at fault for another’s injuries, a complex legal battle can still result as to the extent of those injuries and the amount of damages owed. Often times a jury will determine that an injury is worth much more than what the person at fault claims. As such, it is always in your best interest to consult with an attorney before accepting any money or other offer of compensation for injuries you sustain as a result of someone else’s actions. If you or someone you know has been injured due to another’s negligence, please call 877-877-LAW2 (5292) or 219-924-2427 for a free consultation with one of our top personal injury attorneys.

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