No. 107 October Term, 1979, Appeal from the Order entered December 19, 1978 of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County - Civil Action - at No. 74-2896, Trespass
James F. Guidera, Philadelphia, for appellant.
Garland D. Cherry, Media, for Stephan and Barbara Christides, appellees.
Eric A. Weiss, Media, did not submit a brief on behalf of Stephan A. Christides, appellee.
Spaeth, Stranahan and Sugerman, JJ.*fn*
[ 274 Pa. Super. Page 345]
Appellant, Defendant below, appeals a decision of the lower court, sitting without a jury, awarding Appellee $32,000 as the result of injuries sustained by Appellee in an automobile accident. Appellant's sole contention on appeal is that the award is excessive in light of the actual injuries and losses sustained by Appellee.*fn1
On December 24, 1973, Appellee, while operating his automobile through an intersection in Upper Darby Township, Montgomery County, with a green light in his favor, was struck on the driver's side of his vehicle by Appellant, who had failed to stop at the red light controlling the street upon which he was operating his vehicle. At the moment of impact, Appellant's speed was estimated to have been approximately 40 miles per hour.
As the result of the collision, Appellee sustained fractures of five ribs, hemothorax and other internal injuries, resulting in his hospitalization for a period of six days. For a period of five years prior to the accident, Appellee suffered from a mild cardio-circulatory condition and was seen on four occasions during that period by a cardiologist. As a direct result of the trauma sustained in the instant accident, Appellee's pre-existing heart condition was severely aggravated, resulting in a second hospitalization for a period of five days during the month of April, 1975. In the period of five years following the accident, Appellee was treated by his cardiologist on sixteen occasions. Appellee's medical expenses occasioned by the accident were in the sum of $3,130.
[ 274 Pa. Super. Page 346]
At the time of trial, Appellee, 63 years of age, was an orthopedic surgeon in active practice. As the result of his aggravated heart condition, Appellee has been unable to perform surgery since April, 1975.*fn2 In addition, Appellee's general physical condition and level of activity have been permanently impaired and diminished. During the year immediately preceding the accident, Appellee's gross income was approximately $79,600.
For a period of approximately one month following the accident, Appellee was unable to practice his profession and had no income from any source. In the year following the accident, Appellee's gross income was again $78,600; the following year Appellee grossed $80,900, and during the year prior to trial, Appellee grossed $95,400. Appellee testified himself that prior to the accident he performed four or five operations weekly and that as the result of his inability to perform surgery during the years following the accident, he has "lost" approximately $20,000 in gross income annually. In order to replace income lost by his inability to perform surgery, Appellee has increased the number of orthopedic evaluations and examinations performed for insurance carriers.
Finally, the life and working life expectancy tables in evidence indicate that at the time of trial, Appellee's working life expectancy was 5 1/2 years and ...