Arbitrator Awards $1.2 Million for Neck, Back Injuries in NJ Car Crash

Underinsured Motorist's Insurance Award

Poole v. National Fire Insurance Co. of Pittsburgh

An arbitration panel on June 4 recommended an underinsured motorist's insurance award of $1.2 million for a woman's neck and back injuries in a rear-end car crash, though the plaintiff will recover only $900,000 in UIM benefits.

Sharon P., a saleswoman, was driving a company vehicle on Route 130 in East Windsor when it was hit by another car, says her attorney, Gabriel Lependorf.

Sharon, 49, had two disc removals and vertebrae fusions, and a vertebrae decompression. She is unable to work because of her injuries, says Lependorf, who handled the case together with David Silverstein, his partner at Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C., in Princeton.

Allstate Insurance Co., the carrier for the other car's driver, paid Sharon its full $100,000 bodily injury coverage. Sharon then sought UIM coverage from National Fire Insurance Co. of Pittsburgh, the insurer for her employer at the time, Moore North America of Parsippany.

When National Fire refused Sharon's request for its $1 million policy limit, she sued in Mercer County Superior Court. The case was referred to binding arbitration, as the policy required in coverage disputes, Lependorf says.

National Fire paid $900,000 because it was able to count Allstate's $100,000 payment as a credit, says Lependorf.

National Fire's attorney, John Sawicki of Stevens & Schwab in Secaucus, did not return calls for comment.

- NEW JERSEY LAW JOURNAL

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