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Rear-End Collision Causes Shoulder Injury But Little Vehicle Damage for a Woman With a Preexisting Neck Problem

Case Description: Rear-end collision on I-264 left woman with a shoulder ijry that turned out to be a torn rotator cuff

Location: Chesapeake, VA Circuit Court

What Happened: Our client was driving her SUV to work on I-264 when she was hit from behind by a young man driving a car. Our client braced herself on the steering wheel because she could tell that the car was going to hit her while she was stopped for backed up traffic. She sustained a shoulder injury that ended up being a torn rotator cuff. The initial MRI on the shoulder did not show the tear, and it was not discovered until later during an arthroscopic surgery.

Key Legal Strategy: The case posed several challenges, including the fact that there was minimal to no property damage visible on the rear of our client’s SUV. Additionally, she had been to see a chiropractor for treatment of a neck probem for a period of months prior to the wreck. Her last chiropractic appointment had been five days before she got hit on the highway.

Unfortunately, the chiropractor had a mistaken entry made by his staff in the chart on that last visit which appeared to indicate that the plaintiff had a problem with the same shoulder that got hurt in the traffic accident. By working with our client's orthopaedic surgeon to explain why the initial MRI did not show the torn rotator cuff, we were able to put enough evidence before the jury that they must have believed that it was at least likely that the woman's torn rotator cuff resulted from the rear-end crash despite the prior treatment and the giant pictures of her SUV that appeared to show a slight impact.

Outcome: A civil trial jury awarded or client $50,000. By going to trial, we got more than the insurance company was willing to offer in settlement and made the compay pay in a case in which claims adjusters had refused to believe that our client got hurt in the wreck caused by their policyholder.