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Location: Orange County, Virginia
Injuries: Spinal Injuries
The plaintiff, in his early 60s, was a passenger in a pickup truck that was lawfully stopped on a two-lane highway. He and the driver were waiting for an oncoming car to pass before making a left turn. The defendant hit the truck from behind, and the property damage was considerable.
At the scene, the plaintiff declined EMS transport and his wife drove him to the hospital later that day. He reported neck pain, back pain, headache, numbness and itching on the right sign of his face, and tingling in his left hand. He was prescribed a muscle relaxer and discharged that same day.
About 3 weeks later, the plaintiff went to the ER to report lightheadedness, blurred vision, balance issues, chest pain, mild tingling in his left arm, and a mild frontal headache. He had right arm pain, which he described as burning in the right forearm from wrist to elbow. He testified that many of these symptoms were new to him since the crash.
While the defendant admitted liability, there were issues when it came to recovery for damages. In fact, this was a no-offer case. At the time of the crash, the plaintiff had been disabled for several years. He had had lower back and cervical surgeries, and had been disabled due to these spinal issues for years. He had a long history of complaints, including back pain and nerve pain in his lower and upper extremities. The medical records were replete with pre-crash complaints, which were similar to damages claimed at trial.
The plaintiff returned to the ER 10 days after his last visit. He reported worsening back pain and was instructed to see an orthopedic. Though the orthopedic specialist recommended physical therapy, the plaintiff did not receive any treatment from 11/2014 to 7/2015. He testified that during that time, he was recovering at home.
In August 2015, the plaintiff saw a spine surgeon at UVA. Through MRI, he was diagnosed with a compression fracture at T12 and a mild spinal cord injury associated with disk herniation and compression of the cord at C7-T1. The surgeon recommended and performed the surgery.
The plaintiff’s spine surgeon testified that the compression fracture at T12 and the spinal cord injury were caused by the crash. He explained that the spinal cord injury was permanent and irreversible. The doctor also testified that the plaintiff may never have needed the C7-T1 ACDF surgery, but conservatively, the crash caused him to need that procedure sooner than he otherwise might have.
In the defendant’s closing, it was pointed out that the ER bill was a little over $6,000. After an hour and forty-five minutes, the jury came back with a verdict of $175,000.