Chronic Pain Following Car Crash Merits $170,000 Jury Award | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

What Happened

Our Virginia Beach car accident law firm client developed chronic pain after suffering wrist, shoulder and back injuries in a crash caused by another driver. Despite receiving treatment and therapy from several specialists, the woman is likely to experience debilitating pain for the rest of her life.

The 32-year-old mother of two we represented was driving home from her job as a veterinary practice manager when the at-fault driver pulled out of the Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital parking lot and cut her off while she was traveling at 35-40 mph. Our client’s injuries appeared minor at first, but the pain did not end after her sprains and bruises healed.

After sessions with a chiropractor failed to produce relief, our Virginia personal injury client received a referral to a neuropsychiatrist. That specialist prescribed a series of trigger point injections and a course of physical therapy. Six months later, a neurosurgeon ruled out surgical interventions and consulted with the neuropsychiatrist to reach a consensus diagnosis of myofascial pain syndrome.

The condition is characterized by moderate-to-severe pain in parts of the body that did not experience trauma. It resolves in most patients, but it can become disabling for the approximately 5 percent of people who must deal with myofascial pain syndrome day after day for years on end.


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Key Legal Strategy

The insurance company for the driver who caused the T-bone accident that left our client suffering from chronic pain fought the woman’s claims all the way to court. During the jury selection process, the defense team was allowed to ask potential jurors if they believed “too many frivolous personal injury lawsuits [are] filed in America today.” Eleven members of the 15-person jury pool agreed with that statement, making the case a tough one for our personal injury lawyer.

He met the challenge head-on by asking each of the people who might consider his client’s personal injury lawsuit one of the so-called frivolous ones why they felt the way they did. This gave him the opportunity to discuss the individuals’ concerns and to explain why most personal injury lawsuits are fully justified under law and by the needs of the plaintiff.

In the end, six of the seven jurors who decided on the case entered the jury box with an initial belief that too many personal injury lawsuits were frivolous.

Our attorney won the case for his client by presenting testimony from her neuropsychiatrist and neurosurgeon. The information from the doctors who actually diagnosed and treated the woman’s chronic myofascial pain syndrome directly contradicted the testimony of the defense’s expert witness was prepared to give. In fact, the woman’s doctors were so well-prepared and accurate that the defense did not even put its alleged expert on the stand.

The trial concluded with the jury awarding our client $170,000 for past medical bills, future health care costs and pain and suffering.

This case illustrates both the importance of well-presented medical evidence and the reality that few, if any, personal injury lawsuits are filed simply to cash in on questionable harms. We are proud to have helped the woman receive compensation and damages from the driver who left her suffering a lifetime of unrelieved pain.

Court and Date: Virginia Beach Circuit Court, Virginia Beach, VA, May 2007

Staff: Staff attorney