Offer of Judgment (what was offered by the defense before trial began): $12,000
Verdict- $65,000 in favor of Client
Our Client was 34 years old at the time of the accident. She was a mother of two young children who worked as a Nephrologist (kidney doctor) in West Virginia. She was in North Carolina visiting her family when the accident happened. The Defendant was a 21 year old male with a lengthy criminal history.
The accident occurred on a residential stretch of Mallard Creek Road with one lane of travel in each direction. Defendant, driving a Mustang convertible, encountered a line of cars in his direction of travel that were stopped in the roadway ahead of him. He decided to go into the opposite lane of travel to pass the cars and t-boned Client’s vehicle, a Volvo SUV, as it was making a left hand turn into a driveway. Client was a passenger in the front seat of the vehicle which was driven by her mother. Client’s sister and two daughters were seated in the backseat of the vehicle. Besides Client, the only other person who claimed injury as a result of the accident was Client’s mother. After the accident, Defendant fled the scene. The defense attorney originally asserted the defense of sudden emergency but admitted liability for the accident prior to trial.
All of Client’s medical treatment took place in West Virginia and Virginia. She had no prior issues with neck pain or headaches.
Client first sought treatment two weeks after the accident. She went to the ER because of neck pain. She had x-rays of the cervical and thoracic spine which showed no evidence of fracture or dislocation.
Approximately two weeks later she goes to a physiatrist. She was diagnosed with a cervical strain and received one session of OMT.
A week later she goes to a neurologist. At that point, she had complaints of neck pain with severe muscle spasms and decreased range of motion in all directions, severe headaches, and insomnia secondary to the severe pain, decreased concentration, depression, and fatigue. She received occipital nerve blocks and cervical plexus blocks which only provided temporary relief. An MRI of her c-spine showed a mild disc bulge at C6-7 but no evidence of overt disc herniation or spinal canal stenosis.
Then Client did not seek medical treatment for approximately 10 months. During that time, Client testified she was self-treating doing home exercises, getting massage therapy, taking over the counter medications, etc. She testified that she thought she had a typical whiplash injury that would eventually resolve with time.
Approximately one year after the accident she returns to the physiatrist. Her symptoms had increased in severity. The physiatrist recommends that she see another neurologist. The neurologist that she sees is the sports team doctor for UVA and JMU. The neurologist orders x-rays of her c-spine and a flexion-extension MRI. These tests reveal no abnormalities so he refers her to Pain Management. During his video deposition for trial, the neurologist testified that based on Client’s films, he was “unable to give her a defined pathologic entity” and that it was “difficult to attribute any cause of an entity that he could not yet describe.” At one point he said that had she been one of his football players, he would have “cleared her for the game.” He was not helpful at all to say the least.
Under Pain Management’s care, Client receives peripheral nerve block injections, greater occipital nerve block injections and medial branch blocks, none of which provide lasting relief.
After another 5 months, Client decides to go to another neurologist in her home town. After examination, he says “she fits the rather classic description of a soft tissue whiplash injury” and refers her to Pain Management.
Then she sees another doctor in Pain Management. At this point, it has been approximately two years since the car accident. This doctor and Client work in the same hospital and are on several committees at the hospital together. She diagnoses Client with cervical dystonia and begins a course of Botox injections. After the first injection, Client’s range of motion in her neck improved by 100%. This was the turning point. Client continued with the Botox injections and continued to improve. Her Pain Management doctor testified via video deposition that it was her opinion that the wreck in 2010 was the cause of Client’s injuries. She also testified that Client would suffer from permanent disability, but did not assign a rating.
Client incurred $21,458.76 in medical expenses. Client claimed $22,931.94 in lost wages. This part of her claim was hard to prove for a number of reasons. First, she was never written out of work by a doctor. Also, her pay was commission based and depended on the number of patients she treated. She testified the majority of her lost time was in 2011. She testified that due to bad flares, she would have to cancel her clinic on some days. She estimated that she canceled her clinic approximately 14 times in 2011; however, she had no documentation to support this or prove the actual amount of patients she was unable to treat. We based her lost wages on the difference between her W2 from 2010 ($213,111.92) and 2011 (190,179.98).
Client’s husband testified about how this accident had affected Client’s life over the past 4 years. She was unable to play with her children, wasn’t the wife or mother she was prior to the wreck because she was constantly dealing with pain, she couldn’t sleep, she became depressed, etc. These effects were also well documented in Client’s medical records.
One of the biggest weaknesses in the case was that about 2 years after the accident, Client began to participate in several athletic events, including a 100 mile bike ride, a 6 day hike in Colorado, a 10K, a 5K, and a “Mud Run” obstacle course. Client had been an avid exerciser her whole life, however she had never participated in these types of events before the accident. She explained that the reason she participated in these events was to try to stay as active as possible and improve her morale during this difficult time. She also explained that during these events, she paced herself and was able to take breaks whenever she needed. The defense attorney argued that if Client was really injured, she would not have participated in these events.
Another issue was the gaps in treatment. Client did a good job explaining that during these periods, she was doing everything she could do to try to get better on her own.
The defense attorney also argued that the Client and her Pain Management doctor were friends, so of course she wanted to “help her out with her case.”
The jury came back after 2.5 hours. They awarded $65,000. Best news is that after interest and costs, total compensation should be around $80,000.
Consulting a Charlotte area Personal Injury attorney will get you the results that you want. The Olive Law Firm has been in business since 1957, helping those in Mecklenburg, Cabarrus and other surrounding areas of Charlotte North Carolina.
Tagged with: Charlotte Personal Injury Attorney