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Pinney v. Carrera

Pinney v. Carrera, 2020 UT 43 (Durrant, C.J.)

Tort

A driver hit the plaintiff’s car. The plaintiff sued the driver. At trial, the plaintiff’s chiropractor testified that she had a herniated disc, a permanent back injury, and that treatment failed to get her range of motion to 100 percent. The jury awarded the plaintiff $300,000 in general damages. Post-trial, the driver moved for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict, arguing that the general damages award was too high and the plaintiff failed to meet the requirements of the PIP threshold statute, Utah Code § 31A-22-309. The district court denied the motion. The court of appeals affirmed. The Utah Supreme Court affirmed, holding:

  • To recover general damages arising from a car accident, the PIP threshold statute requires that a person sustain “permanent disability or permanent impairment based upon objective findings.” Utah Code 31A-22-309(1)(a). “Objective findings” means findings regarding a permanent disability or impairment to be based on externally verifiable phenomena rather than on an individual’s subjective perceptions or feelings regarding the injury
  • The general damages award was not excessive. The court will not overturn a general damages award on the ground that the plaintiff presented no evidence of economic harm.

Read the full court opinion

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