THE VIRGINIA STATE BAR RULES OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT REQUIRE ALL ATTORNEYS TO MAKE THE FOLLOWING STATEMENT AND DISCLAIMER TO THEIR CASE RESULTS.
SETTLEMENTS AND VERDICTS IN ALL CASES DEPEND ON VARIOUS FACTORS AND CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH ARE UNIQUE TO EACH CASE. THEREFORE, PAST RESULTS IN CASES ARE NOT A GUARANTEE OR PREDICTION OF SIMILAR RESULTS IN FUTURE CASES WHICH THE ALLEN LAW FIRM AND ITS LAWYERS MAY UNDERTAKE.
Location: Henrico Circuit Court
Attorneys: Trent S. Kerns, Richmond; Bridget N. Long, Petersburg
Trial Date: June 20, 2018
On May 27, 2015, the plaintiff, 50, was riding in the back seat of an SUV driven by her husband when they were struck on East Ridge Road by an SUV driven by the defendant. The defendant was pulling out from Freeman High School making a left turn in front of them. Photos of the vehicles showed modest damage.
Immediately after the crash, the plaintiff began having pain in the middle of her back. However, she did not obtain medical treatment until three weeks later. Her doctor prescribed anti-inflammatories and physical therapy but the plaintiff elected to undertake a home exercise program. The plaintiff had been diagnosed with scoliosis as a child and was followed for that condition at Johns Hopkins Hospital until she reached age 18. She had never received any treatment for her scoliosis or any thoracic back pain before the collision. Prior to the collision, the plaintiff played sports in college and was extremely active as a volunteer in her children’s schools and in the community.
When the plaintiff returned to the doctor a few months later complaining of worsened pain, he recommended a spinal fusion surgery which fused her thoracic spine from T-3 to T-12 with two rods and 16 screws. She was hospitalized for six days following the surgery and confined to her bed for three weeks after she returned home. She could not bend, lift or twist her back for at least six months following the surgery. She is left with permanent lack of mobility in her spine and remains unable to return to many of her normal activities. Her doctor testified that she will need yearly follow-up visits and possibly intermittent rounds of physical therapy.
The defense hired a doctor to perform a records review who opined that the plaintiff suffered only a thoracic sprain as a result of the collision and that the spinal fusion surgery was the result of her pre-existing scoliosis. However, the plaintiff’s doctor testified that she would not have needed the surgery but for the collision.
State Farm made no offer prior to or during the two-day trial and did not respond to a high-low agreement proposed by the plaintiff. The jury deliberated approximately two hours before returning a verdict for $1,300,000. The verdict exceeded defendant’s coverage of $1,250,000 and State Farm paid the full verdict amount.