Delay Damages Awarded In Connection With Future Medical Expenses (PA)

In Roth v. Ross, the Pennsylvania Superior Court addressed the issue of whether delay damages could be awarded in connection with future medical expenses.  If requested in a civil case, delay damages can be added to a compensatory damages award, the effect of which is to encourage early settlement and to compensate the plaintiff for any delay in receiving a monetary award.

Roth sought monetary relief for damages sustained following a motor vehicle accident and commenced suit against the opposing driver and the driver’s insurer seeking damages that included past and future medical expenses, lost wages, lost earning capacity and emotional distress.  The court ultimately awarded Roth damages for past pain and suffering and future medical expenses.

Following the verdict, Roth filed a motion for the inclusion of delay damages pursuant to Pa. R.C.P. 238.  The trial court granted the motion with respect to past pain and suffering, but denied delay damages for future medical expenses reasoning that Roth had failed to provide sufficient case law that future medical expenses fell within the definition of bodily injury under Rule 238.

Roth appealed arguing that a plain reading of Rule 238 established that she was entitled to delay damages for future medical expenses.  On appeal, the Pennsylvania Superior Court agreed and specifically rejected the lower court’s basis for denial of the delay damages.  The Superior Court stated that the correct inquiry in determining if delay damages should be awarded is whether future medical expenses constitute monetary relief for bodily injury.  The court held that future medical expenses did, in fact, constitute such relief, and thus, Roth plaintiff was entitled to delay damages for these expenses.

Special thanks to Colleen Hayes for her contribution to this post.  For more information, please contact Nicole Y. Brown at nbrown@wcmlaw.com.