Our personal injury client suffered back and neck injuries when another driver rear-ended her car. The crash happened on I-264 in Virginia Beach when the at-fault driver attempted to make a last-second lane change to avoid colliding with a third vehicle.
The force of the impact completely collapsed the back half of our client’s car, and the woman we represented went to a hospital emergency room. She received treatment from physicians with whom she worked as a medical assistant at an urgent care center.
The ER doctors referred their injured colleague to a neurosurgeon who took MRIs of her neck and diagnosed a herniated disk. The specialist did not recommend surgery right away but did inform our client that she would need to have the bulging cervical disk repaired at some time within the next five years.
Even though she wanted to avoid neck surgery altogether, our Virginia personal injury client agreed that the procedure and its lengthy, difficult recovery would be necessary to relieve persistent pain and intermittent tingling and numbness in her hands.
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Our Virginia personal injury lawyer focused on obtaining an insurance settlement that would cover the medical assistant’s future health care bills and temporary disability while going through physical rehabilitation. Since the woman missed very few days of work immediately following the rear-end collision and had incurred health care costs of only around $8,000, the at-fault driver’s insurance company was not legally obligated to offer a significant settlement on her initial claims.
Convincing the insurer to compensate his client for future crash-related health expenses required our Virginia personal injury attorney to obtain a signed medical opinion regarding the need for herniated cervical disk repair. He also found it necessary to obtain an expert’s estimate of the total cost for a surgery that would not occur for several years.
The neurosurgeon who diagnosed our car accident client provided the medical opinion. A nurse consultant calculated a total of $200,000 for the surgery, hospitalization, physical therapy, and at-home recovery time.
The at-fault driver’s insurance company refused to pay any settlement larger than $25,000, so our Virginia personal injury lawyer filed a civil lawsuit. During pretrial discovery, the at-fault driver essentially admitted that he was to blame for colliding with our client’s car as she was slowing down while approaching backed-up traffic. This prevented the insurance company from escaping any liability.
Then, because the neurosurgeon’s statement and the nurse consultant’s report were so convincing, the insurer began to realize that a jury would find for our client. It also helped that the injured medical assistant performed well under questioning about her ongoing health problems in the wake of the rear-end collision.
Before trial, the at-fault driver’s insurance company agreed to settle all claims for $100,000. Our personal injury lawyer was able to increase that payment to $130,000 by invoking uninsured/underinsured driver provisions of his client’s own auto insurance policy and the policy of one of his client’s adult children who shared her home.
Securing a fair and just insurance settlement following a Virginia car crash is almost always more difficult than it needs to be. We our glad that we could help this neck injury victim receive funds to cover the majority of her future health care costs.
Court and Date: Virginia Beach Circuit Court, February 2009
Staff: Richard N. Shapiro, staff attorney