Police officer injured when motorist accelerates suddenly during traffic stop

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Case in Point

February 22, 2011

Police officer injured when motorist accelerates suddenly during traffic stop 

The Philadelphia officer and his wife alleged that the motorist was negligent in stepping on the accelerator while the officer was leaning on the car. The parties settled for policy limits of $50,000. The plaintiffs also made a claim against their underinsured motorist carrier, which settled for $195,000. Orkin v. Thompson.

Jason Orkin, a Philadelphia police officer, was on foot patrol when he saw a car driving erratically and signaled the driver, Leroy Thompson, to stop. Orkin leaned into the driver’s door and, while holding onto the door, asked Thompson for his license and registration. Thompson stepped on the accelerator, and the car lurched forward.

Orkin was thrown off the car and twisted around. He suffered a herniated disk at L5-S1. When physical therapy and epidural steroid injections failed to relieve his pain, he underwent fusion surgery. His past medical expenses totaled about $30,000.

As a result of the injury, Orkin, 32, was disabled from active duty. He requested a desk job but was unable to obtain one. He hopes to return at some point in a light-duty capacity. At the time of the incident, he was earning about $60,000 annually, plus $16,000 in overtime pay.

Orkin and his wife sued Thompson, alleging he was negligent in accelerating while Orkin was leaning on the car. The parties settled for Thompson’s $50,000 policy limits. A workers’ compensation lien of about $65,200 was compromised at about $12,700, which was paid from the settlement.

The plaintiffs also made a claim against Allstate, their underinsured motorist (UIM) carrier, for the policy’s $200,000 limit. The parties settled the UIM claim for $195,000.

Citation: Orkin v. Thompson, No. 2527, July Term 2010 (Pa., Phila. Co. Com. Pleas Jan. 3, 2011).

Plaintiff counsel: AAJ member Jerry Lyons, Philadelphia.

Plaintiff expert: David Anderson, orthopedic surgery, Philadelphia.


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