Norfolk Head-On Mediated Settlement for Fractured Vertebra | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

What Happened

Our personal injury client suffered a fractured vertebra when another driver struck their vehicle head-on. The crash happened in the eastbound lanes of I-64 near Norfolk Naval Station.

The official accident report on the head-on collision issued by the Virginia State Police indicated that the at-fault driver lost control and ran across the interstate median. The driver of the wrong-way vehicle said they experienced a sudden and unexpected medical emergency in the moments before the crash.

The two vehicles collided with great force, and our client was transported from the scene to a local hospital for emergency treatment. Diagnosed with a fractured vertebra in addition to other serious injuries, our client experienced significant pain and had to miss work for an extended period. Medical bills piled up.

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Damaged physically and financially, our client sought compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. The insurer denied all claims for the payment of medical expenses, as well as compensation for pain and suffering. Claims adjusters argued that their policyholder had no liability because experiencing an unexpected medical emergency while driving does not constitute negligence.

Key Legal Strategy

Unable to convince the insurance company to look past the contents of the official accident report, the injured crash victim hired one of our Norfolk personal injury attorneys to file a lawsuit. We prepared for trial by conducting our own investigation.

A review of the at-fault driver’s medical records revealed that the person was not complying with doctor’s orders for treating a long-term health condition. Specifically, medical records that we obtained by subpoena indicated the at-fault driver had not been taking medication prescribed to control symptoms that could lead to blacking out and losing control behind the wheel of a car or truck.

The at-fault driver eventually admitted during a sworn deposition that they were not in compliance with recommended treatments. Our personal injury attorney could now reference the at-fault driver’s failure to take prescribed medication as negligent behavior that set the stage for the head-on collision.

We also worked to substantiate our client’s claims for reimbursement of medical expenses and compensation for pain and suffering. An examination conducted by an independent physician confirmed that our client suffered the vertebra fracture in the crash. The physician also issued a report documenting structural changes to our client’s spine as a result of the fracture that produced persistent and debilitating leg pain.

Presented with their own policyholder’s admission of negligence and the physician’s findings, the insurance company agreed to enter into pretrial mediation. Those discussions yielded an amicable settlement for all claims, and our client was able to avoid going to court.


Case: Demski v. IronsSettlemtn Amount: ConfidentialCourt: Virginia Beach Circuit CourtFirm Attorney: Randy AppletonStaff: B. Wyatt