Car crash – $300,000

Location: Orange County
Verdict: $300,000

The plaintiff was driving eastbound on Route 33 in Orange County. He slowed for traffic that was stopped ahead of him and was struck in the rear by the defendant. The impact pushed the plaintiff’s vehicle off the roadway and into a field.

Eyewitnesses testified that in the moments before impact, the plaintiff’s vehicle was speeding and nearly out of control when trying to stop for the traffic ahead. For this reason, the defense argued that the plaintiff was contributorily negligent.

The plaintiff had undergone a lumbar fusion approximately one month prior to the collision. He was examined in the emergency room on the night of the crash, and doctors noted that he had sustained no injuries. Over the ensuing months and years, however, the plaintiff began to develop more severe lower back symptoms. The plaintiff’s spine surgeon testified that the trauma of the impact had accelerated the plaintiff’s “proximal junction disease,” and that he would therefore require an extension of the lumbar fusion in the future. The doctor hired by the defense contested this opinion.

The plaintiff incurred past medical expenses of $11,000, and the future lumbar fusion was priced at $150,000. The case went to arbitration, and the arbitrator awarded the plaintiff $300,000 for his past and future medical expenses, including pain and suffering.