Questions About Preexisting Neck Condition Do Not Prevent Recovery for Shoulder Injury Suffered in Rear-End Collision | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

What Happened

Our Virginia personal injury client suffered a shoulder injury when another driver rear-ended her SUV on I-264 in Chesapeake, VA. The injury turned out to be a torn rotator cuff, but that was not diagnosed until the woman underwent exploratory surgery to discover the cause of her persistent pain, limited range of motion and weakness.


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Key Legal Strategy

The crash happened when the at-fault driver failed to slow down while approaching a line of stopped vehicles on the interstate. His insurance company did not dispute that, but its representatives did contest our Virginia personal injury client’s claims all the way through a jury trial.

The insurer discovered that the woman its policyholder hit had received months of chiropractic treatment for a neck condition. Her last visit to the chiropractor took place five days before the rear-end collision and the health care provider’s staff mistakenly updated her record to include mention of a then-nonexistent shoulder issue.

This information and numerous photographs showing minimal damage to our client’s SUV gave the insurance company arguments it believed would convince jurors that the woman’s torn rotator cuff was a preexisting health problem. The members of the jury were not fooled.

Our Virginia personal injury attorney explained to jurors how the woman tore her rotator cuff when she saw the at-fault driver approaching from behind and braced herself for impact against her steering wheel. Our lawyer also presented testimony from the chiropractor explaining how the mistaken entry made it into her health record and why MRIs performed shortly after the crash might not have revealed the damage to the woman’s shoulder.

At the conclusion of the trial, jurors decided in favor of our Virginia personal injury client and awarded her $50,000.

Insurance companies often cite real and suspected preexisting conditions as reasons to deny injury claims from crash, slip and fall, and medical malpractice victims. In this case arising from the rear-end collision in Chesapeake, claims adjustors first said they would offer our Virginia personal injury client no settlement. They later proposed a very low settlement, and they eventually had to pay several times that insufficient and unjust amount. Fighting for accident victims is what we do.

Court: Chesapeake Circuit Court, Chesapeake, VA

Staff: Staff attorney