$59,000 Car Accident

Warren County, VA
Type Of Case:Car accident
Location:Warren County, VA
Injuries Sustained:Severe neck pain and headaches, left shoulder pain, lower back pain
Place of Accident:Warren County, VA
Suit Filed:Warren County Circuit Court
Verdict or Settlement:Verdict
Key Takeaways:While I am always ready to take a case to trial, ultimately, it is the client’s decision to settle or try the case before a jury. The risk can be high and it does not always work out in favor of the plaintiff. Juries in different areas of Virginia can be more conservative or less likely to award large verdicts to plaintiffs. However, in this case, we were rewarded for taking the calculated risk.

Our client was stopped, waiting to make a left turn, when she was rear-ended by another driver. As a result of the collision, our client sustained severe neck pain and headaches but waited for a few days after the accident before she sought medical attention. She believed that it would go away, but when it didn’t, she went to the ER. She then subsequently developed left shoulder pain and lower back pain and was ultimately treated by a neurologist.

Our client was previously under the care of a neurologist for migraine headaches. The neurologist saw our client just days before the collision. This doctor had also seen our client years before for complaints of low back and neck pain prior to the accident. The neurologist had previously diagnosed her with degenerative changes at C5-C6 and C6-C7; however, our client’s pain was under control and she had not had treatment for the neck and back for years. After the collision these conditions were markedly worse. Our client was treated with medication, injections and referred to physical therapy for her injuries from this collision.

The physical therapy seemed to help for a while and then our client’s pain began to get worse. She returned to her neurologist who continued to treat her with conservative means and indicated that our client would have a permanent and chronic condition for which she would need future care at least once or twice a year.

Due to the continuing nature of the medical care that our client was receiving, it was difficult to determine what a fair compensation would entail. She incurred over $18,000 in medical expenses as a result of this accident, but would need continued treatment for her chronic condition. In situations where the injured party has a permanent and chronic condition, and there is a physician actively supporting this assertion and is able to provide an estimate of possible future expenses, we have a case for future damages.

A lawsuit was filed in the Warren County Circuit Court. Before trial, the insurance company offered $26,000 to settle the case. There were multiple reasons why they decided to make that low of an offer. First, the accident was a low impact and there was not much damage. Second, our client had a pre-existing condition which can negatively affect a jury’s perception of a person. Third, our client had a few gaps in treatment which can be presented in such a way that would make the jury question whether she was actually hurt as badly as she claimed. All of these issues combined can make an insurance company overly confident that a jury would not return a verdict for much over their offer.

Obviously, to receive such a good result, we did have some good facts to support our claim:

  1. Our client’s current boss and coworker, who both knew our client before and after the accident, testified about the negative affects the accident had on our client.
  2. Our client missed only one day of work as a result of the accident. The fact that she was a hard worker made an impression on the jury.
  3. The neurologist that testified for our client was a strong witness and knew our client well. She was able to explain clearly why our client’s pain was from the accident and not some pre-existing problem.
  4. The defense did not hire a doctor. In almost all cases now the defense hires a doctor that comes back with a less than favorable opinion regarding a client’s injuries or treatment.

Our client decided to take the risk of trial. We proceeded to trial and obtained a verdict in our client’s favor for $59,000, over twice what the insurance company had offered to settle the case.

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