The Court of Appeals upholds another "serious injury" verdict; rejects "sudden emergency" defense
Insurers are aggressively pressing the appellate courts to throw out jury verdicts in favor of seriously injured victims with the argument tha reasonable jurors could not possible find the injuries suffered were "life-altering" as an activist Supreme Court majority recently re-defined "serious". They also seek permission of the court to instruct the jury on "sudden emergency" whenever there are winter weather conditons--no matter the circumstances.
Some of these serious impairment appeals are successful, however, the majority of the Court of Appeals judges have held the line where there is a basis for the jurors' decision. One recent example is Hollinrake v. Hollinrake, where the plaintiff suffered multiple fractured ribs and vertebrae, endured three surgeries and hospitalizations, and the insertion of rods and screws over three years to stabilize her back. She attended weeks of physical therapy, required assistance from her family with bathing and dressing, and had to limit her activities after the injury.
In Hollinrake, the insurer also challenged the court's failure to instruct the jury that the Defendant's loss of control could be excused if it was the result of a weather-related sudden emergency. The Defendant attempted to blame the collision on slush and icy weather conditons, however the court noted that the conditions had existed form many hours and the Defendant had been driving under these conditions for many miles: the weather could not be a "sudden" emergency not of Defendant's own making, because there was nothing "sudden" or "unexpected" about it. The court's refusal to instruct on sudden emergency as an excuse for losing control was upheld.