Richard Harris, 44, was stopped at an intersection in WestPhiladelphia when the car he was driving was struck frombehind on March 28, 2013. Following the accident, Harrisclaimed that he had suffered back injuries and a specific bodilyfunction was impaired.

Harris was examined and released from the emergency roomfollowing the accident. On April 3rd, Harris went to arehabilitation facility complaining of lower back pain. An MRI andan EMG showed that he had a bulge at the L4-5 and L5-S1 discs. Hewas diagnosed with lumbar strain and sprain, as well asmyofasciitis (widespread pain). He was treated with physical andmassage therapy, as well a series of facet injections to helpmanage the pain.

Sued own insurer

The driver of the car that hit Harris had a $15,000 policy limitand the parties agreed to settle for that amount. Harris also suedhis insurer, Government Employees Insurance Co., for an under-insured motorist claim since he had a$30,000 policy limit.

After the accident, Harris drove individuals to medicalappointments and said he was unable to get a better job due to aninability to lift items. In court he testified that he was unableto physically play with his grandchildren, perform housework, orfulfill his responsibilities as a community block leader, whichrequired him to pull weeds, move heavy recycling bins and check onneighbors. His wife confirmed his limitations in her testimony.Harris wanted to recover damages for past and future pain andsuffering.

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Patricia L. Harman

Patricia L. Harman is the editor-in-chief of Claims magazine, a contributing editor to, and chairs the annual America's Claims Event (ACE), which focuses on providing claims professionals with cutting-edge education and networking opportunities. She covers auto, property & casualty, workers' compensation, fraud, risk and cybersecurity, and is a frequent speaker at insurance industry events. Contact her at [email protected]