Virginia Beach Crash Victim Receives $675,000 Settlement Despite Preexisting Degenerative Disc Disease | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

What Happened

Our Virginia personal injury client was exiting I-64 in Virginia Beach, VA, during morning rush hour when another driver rear-ended his vehicle. The collision left him with persistent neck, arm and hand pain, which doctors eventually diagnosed as an asymptomatic degenerative spinal disc disease becoming symptomatic following the trauma of the crash.

Cervical injections and physical therapy failed to offer pain relief, so the man’s medical team recommended spinal fusion surgery. The pain left him unable to continue working as a home health care provider. On the other hand, limited range of motion and weakness following neck surgery would also leave him incapable of fulfilling his previous duties.

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Key Legal Strategy

The driver who caused the rear-end collision that triggered our Virginia personal injury client’s degenerative disc disease symptoms admitted fault. That driver’s car insurance company, however, initially refused to make a settlement. The insurance claims adjusters argued that our client’s preexisting condition would have disabled the home health care provider at some point and did not manifest because of their policyholders’ negligence.

Insurance company representatives also said that our client deserved no compensation for his partial disability or lost lifetime earnings capacity because he was able to complete an educational program and find a different job with fewer physical demands.

We informed the insurance company of our intentional to file a civil lawsuit. If the case went to trial, we were prepared to present evidence from our client’s doctors and vocational experts that clearly showed the connection between the rear-end collision and the man’s partial disability, as well as the man’s future medical costs and lost earnings.

Even though the insurance company brought in its own doctor who was prepared to testify, based on a physical examination of our client, that the man was not extensively injured and disabled, the company did finally agree to settle the case without going before a judge or jury.

After much negotiating, we secured a $675,000 settlement for our client.

The successful outcome of this Virginia personal injury case illustrates the importance of presenting convincing medical evidence to support car accident injury claims. It also shows the invaluable benefit of enlisting the assistance of a vocational expert who will interview the injured victim, administer a battery of employment tests and calculate earnings potential.

Court: Virginia Beach Circuit Court, Virginia Beach, VA

Staff: Randall E. Appleton, staff attorney