Major Settlement for Victim of North Carolina Car Crash Who Delayed Shoulder Surgery | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

What Happened

Our North Carolina car accident injury client required shoulder surgery long after a crash in Rodanthe, NC. The woman, a retired schoolteacher, was riding in the back seat of a Cadillac on a two-lane bypass when the driver of another vehicle cut off the Cadillac by attempting an unsafe left turn,

Our client went to the Outer Banks Hospital in Nags Head for treatment of injuries to her neck, chest, right shoulder, ribs, abdomen and lower back. The pain in her shoulder persisted for more than year, seriously interrupting her sleep.

Having avoided doctors for most of her life and experiencing no serious health problems before becoming injured in the nearly head-on collision, our client put off seeing an orthopedic surgeon. When she finally did undergo an MRI, the orthopedist found torn ligaments in her right shoulder.

A repair procedure succeeded, but that left our client with high medical bills.


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Key Legal Strategy

The car insurance company for the driver who caused the crash in which our North Carolina personal injury law firm client refused to offer a settlement. The insurance claims adjusters asserted that the woman’s shoulder injury resulted from some other incident than the wreck that happened more than year before she went to an orthopedist.

Most plaintiff’s attorneys would not have taken this case, but an interview with the retired schoolteacher convinced our legal team that she was honest and sincere in stating that nothing other than the crash could have torn her shoulder ligaments. A follow-up call to the orthopedic surgeon who diagnosed the cause of her persistent shoulder pain and performed the repair confirmed our client’s story. The medical specialist stated without reservation that he would testify at trial that only the crash could have caused the injuries he discovered.

The car insurance company continued to deny our client’s claims, so we filed a civil lawsuit. During depositions taken while preparing for trial, the at-fault driver admitted that he never saw our client’s approaching Cadillac when he started to turn into its path.

A background check on the at-fault driver also uncovered a previous felony conviction for selling drugs in a school zone. State law would allow us to share this information with civil trial jurors as a way to establish the character and responsibility of the at-fault driver.

Realizing that it could not succeed with denying its policyholder’s fault, the insurance company finally agreed to enter into mediation. That alternative dispute resolution process, overseen by a retired North Carolina superior court judge, concluded with our client accepting a significant monetary settlement.

Terms of the settlement agreement require us to keep the exact amount confidential. What we can report is that the injured woman received enough from two available insurance policies to pay off all her medical bills and have money left over as compensation for her pain and suffering.

Court: Dare County Superior Court, Manteo, NC, March 2015

Staff: Richard N. Shapiro, staff attorney