Painful Injections Required after Rear-End Collision in Fairfax. Jury Verdict: $725,000

Awarded: $725,000

Our client was travelling on Prosperity Avenue in Fairfax County, Virginia. The weather was poor and a wintry mix had caused the roads to be icy. The client was about to turn left when he lightly rear-ended the vehicle in front of him, which was waiting to turn left. The client motioned with his right hand for that vehicle to pull over to the side of the road so they could check for damage. The client was then struck from behind by the Defendant, and his vehicle was totaled. The client did not think he was hurt but saw the Defendant fall to the ground after getting out of his vehicle. According to the client, it appeared that the Defendant was convulsing. The client helped the Defendant out of the street into a nearby building, where the Defendant appeared disoriented. The client’s vehicle was towed but the client did not accept medical transport.

The following day, the client’s back began to hurt on his commute to work. He went to the emergency room in Loudoun County on February 14, 2008. An x-ray of his lumbar spine revealed no fractures, and no disc narrowing. Back strain was diagnosed and medication for pain was prescribed. The client returned to the emergency room on February 25, 2008 due to his continuing pain, where once again back strain was diagnosed. It was recommended he follow up with an orthopaedic surgeon. Client consulted with an orthopaedic surgeon in Winchester on March 6, 2008. Physical Therapy was prescribed. During the course of physical therapy, the client’s shoulder began to hurt and got progressively worse. An MRI was ordered of the client’s lumbar spine, which revealed a subtle increased signal centrally within the annulus midline L5-S1, and focal central bulging of the L5-S1 disc. The findings were consistent with a small partial tear of the annulus. A thoracic MRI taken a few weeks later showed congenital fusion of T1 & T2 and a small midline disc herniation at T7-8, not causing spinal stenosis or nerve root impairment, and a right paracentral disc herniation at T8-9. The client’s orthopaedic surgeon documented that the findings at T7-T8 and T8-T9 were degenerative, insignificant, and he did not feel that these findings would reliably be associated with the client’s pain and symptoms. He referred the client to a pain management specialist.

The client saw a pain management specialist for his ongoing back and shoulder pain. The pain management specialist recommended prolotherapy, a series of very painful injections designed to strengthen the area of injury by injecting a sugar molecule into the area, which would then form scar tissue. The client underwent approximately 12 sessions of prolotherapy on his shoulder and back, each session consisting of somewhere between 30-50 injections. The client’s wife took a video after each session to capture what his back and shoulder looked like following the injections. An edited, shorted version of those videos was compiled and showed to the jury at trial without sound. The client testified that prolotherapy was excruciatingly painful.

At trial, the lawyers at WilliamsFord put on an expert who testified that the client had a bulging disc at L5-S1, a partial tear of the annulus at L5-S1, a T7-T8 herniation impressing upon ventral thecal sac, a T8-T9 herniation with caudal extension of disc material, and a paralabral cyst and degenerative changes in his shoulder that were due to the trauma his shoulder underwent while holding on to the steering wheel as he was struck from behind. The Defendant’s expert, Dr. Bruno, testified that the findings in the client’s spine were all degenerative in nature and not related to the crash. Dr. Bruno also testified that the client had no ongoing problems, despite the client’s testimony that he hurt on a daily basis and that he could work approximately 6-7 hours per day painting.  In addition, there was substantial evidence that prior to the crash the client routinely worked up to 10-12 hours per day, often 7 days per week.

Barbara and Cory put on approximately $14,000 in medical bills at trial.  The insurance company, State Farm, offered $16,000 on a $100,000 policy the week before trial and would not offer any other funds.  When the jury verdict was returned for $725,000, State Farm paid all of the verdict to protect their insured from paying any excess over the policy limits of $100,000.

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