Our client, a professional musician, was violently struck from behind by an Acura while traveling in the center lane of an interstate highway in Norfolk, Virginia. Our client's Grand Cherokee spun around a couple of times, hit a guardrail, and came to rest on the shoulder of the highway facing oncoming traffic. The Acura came to rest in the middle of the highway. Both vehicles were totaled, meaning they suffered considerable damage.
The defendant left the scene in another vehicle before our client was able to escape from his vehicle, likely in an effort to evade responsibility. Fortunately, the defendant driver and his insurance company were ultimately identified. Our client was taken to the emergency room at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, thoroughly evaluated and discharged. A few days later, our client went to a local chiropractor with neck, back, shoulder and knee pain as well as numbness and tingling running down his arms and legs. When he did not improve significantly over the following months, he consulted with an orthopedic surgeon who diagnosed him with neck and back sprains, bilateral lumbar radiculopathies and bilateral shoulder bursitis as a result of the auto accident.
The client underwent MRIs and EMGs ordered by the orthopedic surgeon. Electromyography (EMG) is a diagnostic procedure to assess the health of muscles and the nerve cells that control them (motor neurons). The MRI of the low back showed a long term, degenerative condition of the spine. The EMG of his legs revealed damage to the nerve exiting his spine in the low back and running down his right leg. The EMG of his arms revealed an injury to his right median nerve. Our client improved with chiropractic and physical therapy sessions over time and was released from the care of the chiropractor and orthopedic surgeon approximately 11 months after the wreck. The orthopedic surgeon advised our client he aggravated a pre-existing degenerative condition in his lumbar spine (low back) in the wreck leading to the numbness and tingling in his leg that could be expected to continue with physical stress in the future.
Key Legal Strategies
Our client's medical bills were around $49,000. The defendant's insurance company claimed a large part of the bills were due to a pre-existing condition in his spine, and not the wreck. The defendant's insurance company pointed to the fact that our client had seen two other chiropractors in the two years before the wreck, the last visit being approximately two months prior to the collision. Our client insisted that he was doing well with minor problems before the collision, but the car crash with the defendant's vehicle caused far more problems and new medical issues. Norfolk car accident lawyer Randy Appleton advised our client that the best option was to take the case to a jury and turn down the insulting, lowball settlement offers made by the insurance company.
The case went to trial. Randy, an experienced personal injury attorney who has handled hundreds of car accident injury cases, offered the testimony of the chiropractor our client saw after the wreck, as well as the orthopedic surgeon. The orthopedic surgeon utilized images from a medical illustration accessed via his Ipad to visually demonstrate the areas of our client's body which were injured in the wreck. The orthopedic doctor also pointed to the results of the EMGs to support a conclusion of nerve injuries as a result of the wreck.
The jury was tasked with evaluating the damages suffered by our client in the wreck, and decide on the reasonable compensation attributable to the wreck. The attorney for the defendant driver contended that only our client's emergency room visit and about a month of chiropractic care were due to the wreck. They completely ignored the orthopedic care, testing and physical therapy provided to our client and contended it was not caused by the wreck. The defendant's insurance company retained a local orthopedic surgeon to review the records of our client's care before and after the wreck. He did not examine or interview our client. Randy found highly relevant information about this “go to” doctor often retained by car insurance companies to testify in courts across the Commonwealth including Norfolk.
Armed with this material, Randy cross examined the “go to” orthopedic surgeon with the two previous court orders that specifically cast doubt upon the doctor's impartiality, as both court’s found this doctor was not impartial. After hearing this and all the other evidence in the case, the jury returned a verdict of $150,000 plus interest for our client.
Norfolk, Virginia Circuit Court
Randall E. Appleton
Roz H., Becky W.