No. 1554 PHILADELPHIA, 1982, Appeal from an Order in the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, of Lehigh County, No. 22 January Term, 1977.
Thomas Martin, Philadelphia, for appellant.
Michael P. Shay, Bethlehem, for appellees.
Rowley, Hester and Roberts, JJ.
[ 330 Pa. Super. Page 111]
This appeal raises the novel issue of whether a jury verdict on a survival action should be reduced by $15,000.00, the maximum work loss benefits recoverable under the No-fault Motor Vehicle Insurance Act.*fn1 We hold that the lower court improperly granted appellee's motion to mold the verdict, and we hereby reinstate the original verdict of $100,000.00.
Appellant's decedent was involved in an automobile accident on September 24, 1975, and died from his injuries twelve days later. Appellant thereafter filed a complaint in trespass alleging a survival cause of action and a wrongful death cause of action. The case was tried by a jury on January 12, 1981 through January 16, 1981. A verdict was rendered in favor of appellant and against appellee Robert Chroust in the amount of $45,000.00 on the wrongful death
[ 330 Pa. Super. Page 112]
action and in the amount of $100,000.00 on the survival action.*fn2
Appellee filed a motion to mold the verdict, requesting that the award in the survival action be reduced by $15,000.00.*fn3 The lower court granted the motion and decreased the verdict accordingly. This appeal followed.
Appellant asserts that decedent's estate did not receive the work loss benefits which were deducted from the verdict due to the fact that such benefits were not available to decedents' estates in 1975. Furthermore, appellant argues that it is impossible to ascertain from the general verdict whether damages were attributable to work loss or whether it solely compensated the decedent for pain and suffering he endured prior to death. For the above reasons, appellant contends that the trial court erred in molding the verdict.
The No-fault Act created a comprehensive system of compensation for persons who sustain losses resulting from the maintenance or use of a motor vehicle. Certain benefits are available to "any victim or any survivor of a deceased victim of an automobile accident."*fn4 One type of "basic ...