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Location: Loudon County, Virginia
On October 13, 2016, Lloyd Diggs was driving a UPS truck in Loudoun County when he was rear-ended by the defendant. As a result of the collision, he sustained an injury to his lower back.
He was transported to the emergency room by ambulance, examined in the ER, and followed up with his primary care physician the following day. Ultimately, Mr. Diggs received 23 physical therapy sessions monitored by an orthopedist. His total medical treatment costs were $19,667.92. The bulk of his claimed damages, in this case, were attributable to the eight months he missed from work.
As a delivery driver, Mr. Diggs’ job is classified in the “very heavy physical demand” category. Although he was able to lift and carry up to 70 pounds within 10 weeks of the collision, his functional capacity evaluation established that he could not repeatedly lift 75 pounds from the floor to shoulder without experiencing lower back pain. This meant he could not return to work for a prolonged period of time. In total, he lost $47.967.36 in wages as a result of his injury. The total special damages in the case were $67,635.28.
At trial, Mr. Diggs explained that his first thought in the immediate aftermath of the collision was, “Oh no, not my back again.” Mr. Diggs was in a previous motor vehicle collision on September 30, 2014. As a result of that collision, Mr. Diggs injured his lower back and was diagnosed with a herniated disc in his lumbar spine. In conjunction with his care in that case, he received a surgical consultation but declined any additional medical intervention and returned to work. He readily acknowledged that he had a bad back prior to this collision and we limited our theory of the case to aggravation of a pre-existing condition.
Mr. Diggs became emotional on the witness stand, explaining that immediately prior to the collision he and his wife had purchased a new home. He experienced a tremendous amount of stress when he was subsequently taken out of work and was unable to make meaningful financial contributions to his household. In addition, Mr. Diggs and his wife spent their weekends traveling to Philadelphia to spend time with their two young grandchildren. In the immediate aftermath of this event, they were unable to make those trips at all.
Over time, he was able to make the drive. However, his ability to play with the children on arrival was limited by pain and stiffness. He testified that he continued to experience low back pain and stiffness on a regular basis and had to alter his daily routine to accommodate his ongoing back issues.
The defense designated Dr. Michael Simpson, who opined that Mr. Diggs’ injuries were limited to sprain/strains that resolved within eight to ten weeks. During discovery deposition, he acknowledged that Mr. Diggs was kept out of work by his doctors, even over his objections, and expressed a desire to return, so he agreed that the wage loss was related.
He also agreed that the treatment Mr. Diggs received was reasonable to address even a soft tissue injury and conceded that Mr. Diggs’ prior history, which included a herniated disc, made him more susceptible to traumatic injury. Ultimately, the defense decided to pull him from the case and did not call him to testify at trial. The defense did bring up a 2019 rear-end collision in which Mr. Diggs injured his lower back. However, the jury believed Mr. Diggs’ testimony that this was a minor event that did not substantially alter his overall physical condition.
In the end, the jury returned a total verdict of $240,829.63 after interest was calculated. The carrier paid that amount to settle the case.