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Rear-End Car Crash Leads to $75,000 Jury Award

Case Description: Pickup truck pasenger sustained a lower back injury in a rear-end collision

Firm Attorney: James C. Lewis with James M. Boyd

What Happened: This case involved a rear-end collision that occurred on June 25, 2004. At that time, the plaintiff was a 28-year-old member of the U.S. Navy who was a passenger in a fellow service member’s pickup truck. The rear-end collision occurred with sufficient force to cause the plaintiff's head to break out the rear window of the pickup truck. The injured man was treated conservatively by Navy health care providers for lower back pain.

Later, on October 15, 2004, the plaintiff was involved in a one-car collision that was his fault. The property damage cused in the second accident was significant, but the plaintiff reported no lower back pain as a result of the crash. Thereafter, he received approximately two years of treatment for the back injury he sustained in the first, rear-end collision. All of this treatment was conservative, and his medical expenses totaled approximately $5,000.

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Key Legal Strategy: Allstate Insurance Company took the position that the plaintiff's second collision contributed to his need for ongoing medical care and treatment. On the morning of trial, because Allstate had no expert evidence to link the later accidet to the plaintiff’s lower back pain, the trial court excluded any reference to the incident. Thereafter, the case was tried by a jury whose members heard testimony regarding only the first, rear-end crash.

Outcome: The highest offer Allstate made prior to the trial was $6,500. On the morning of trial, the plaintiff’s demand was $15,000. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff for $75,000, which was the amount requested during closing arguments. Since that time, Allstate has paid its policy limits of $50,000 in return for a release of further liability from our plaintiff.

Jurisdiction of case; Virginia Beach, Virginia (VA)