Our North Carolina car accident injury client suffered serious leg, foot and ankle injuries and months of complications after a driver inadvertently ran over her foot in a parking lot. The injured 70-year-old woman eventually needed two surgeries and a skin graft.
Our client had attended a community board meeting in Hertford, NC, and was getting into the back seat of her friend’s car when the driver started moving before our client had fully entered the car. The rear tire crushed and trapped the woman’s left foot.
By the time our client made it to Chowan Vidant Hospital, she had developed a condition called epidermolysis along her left calf. Patients with epidermolysis experience loosening of the skin due to extreme swelling and the pooling of blood around a wound, which doctors call edema.
Doctors sent the injured woman home wearing a pressure bandage and a U-splint. Referred to an orthopedic surgeon, our client learned that her epidermolysis had triggered ecchymosis, which is a long-term or permanent discoloration of the skin due to continual internal bleeding.
The orthopedist put our client on crutches and ordered her to avoid driving for several weeks. When her leg pain and swelling did not subside, she went back to the orthopedist and was told that she needed to have her wound drained and ankle debrided.
A debridement is a surgical procedure during which doctors remove foreign objects from a wound and also cut away damaged or dead (necrotic) tissue that will never heal or cannot be repaired. Following that surgery, the woman needed an extensive skin graft on her left calf. She also spent several weeks using a vacuum device to control swelling in her lower leg.
Even that did not relieve our client’s ankle pain, and her orthopedist finally found and surgically removed a giant cell tumor that formed as microtears along the woman’s ankle tendon sheath were closing. Recovering from that second surgery left our client confined to her bed or a chair for months.
Intensive physical therapy allowed our client to walk again, but she continued experiencing pain and swelling more than a year after the parking lot accident. It is also unclear if the discolored skin on her calf will ever return to its normal tone.
Key Legal Strategy
By the time the injured woman hired our North Carolina car injury victim law firm, she had accumulated more than $50,000 in unpaid medical bills. Since the laws of North Carolina allow car crash victims to access both the at-fault driver’s liability and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage, we were able to negotiate a total settlement of $132,500. The money represented all $100,000 of the at-fault driver’s liability coverage plus $32,500 of the at-fault driver’s UIM coverage. We did not have to deal with our client’s own car insurance company or take the case to court.
Date: November 2017
Staff: Richard N. Shapiro, staff attorney