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Shapiro & Appleton

Anterior cervical discectomy related to car wreck five years earlier.

According to an article in the Virginia Lawyers Weekly dated September 1, 2008, a 45 year old Plaintiff was traveling on Central Park Blvd. in Fredericksburg, Virginia (VA) on January 31, 2001 when Defendant attempted to make a left turn in front of her and struck her vehicle.  Plaintiff’s vehicle was declared a total loss and liability was admitted.

Immediately after the accident, Plaintiff was taken to the emergency room with complaints of neck, shoulder and low back pain, as well as a laceration of the head, which did not require stitches.  She was released after a brief examination and cervical x-rays were taken.  Plaintiff saw her chiropractor a few days after the accident and began a course of chiropractic treatment.  She also saw her family doctor who prescribed medication and referred her to an orthopedist and physical therapist. 

Plaintiff suffered ongoing neck pain over the next several years but only sought medical care and treatment sporadically.  Before the January, 2001 car wreck, Plaintiff had been injured in three prior car accidents.  In 1990, she had been diagnosed with a herniated disc at C5-6 confirmed by a CT scan that year and by a follow up MRI in 1992.  Allstate offered $5,600.00 to settle the case before suit but the Plaintiff refused the offer.

In 2006, more than five years after the collision, Plaintiff consulted Dr. Robert G. Squillante, a Fredericksburg orthopaedic surgeon, who diagnosed cervical stenosis and recommended surgery.  On July 3, 2006, Plaintiff underwent an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion of C4-5, C5-6 and C6-7.  Dr. Squillante performed a revision procedure on April 20, 2007.

At trial, Dr. Squillante testified that the two surgeries he performed were medically necessary and casually related to the January 2001 motor vehicle accident.  Defense counsel hired Dr. Michael O’Brien to review Plaintiff’s medical records.  Dr. O’Brien never examined the Plaintiff and opined at trial that the Plaintiff’s two surgeries were not related to the accident.  On cross-examination by Plaintiff’s counsel, Dr. O’Brien testified that, although he wrote two medical opinion reports for defense counsel, he did not have a complete set of Plaintiff’s medical records before he wrote either report.  He conceded that medical records from at least 5-6 more health care providers were missing from materials given to him.  Moreover, Dr. O’Brien admitted he did not review, or even have in his possession, any medical records which dated from the period before Plaintiff’s January 2001 car wreck.  Dr. O’Brien agreed that Plaintiff’s prior medical history before the accident would have been relevant to the case and noted that “as many records as possible always help, yes”.

Before trial, Allstate offered $110,000.00, which the Plaintiff refused.  To protect its insured, who had $500,000.00 in liability coverage, defense counsel agreed to a high/low of $110,000.00/$500,000.00 with no appeal by either party.  The jury awarded the Plaintiff $518,000.00 and Allstate paid the $500,000.00 pursuant to the high/low agreement.

In order to prove negligence in car/truck/auto accident case, it is crucial to have attorneys/lawyers that have both knowledge of the field and real trial experience. The Law Firm of Shapiro & Appleton routinely confer with some of the foremost medical experts in the country on behalf of their clients, and have a long and distinguished history of taking cases to trial with successful results. If you or a loved one has been the victim of this type case injury or death, please contact our offices for a free consultation today.

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