Client Needed Back Surgery After Side-Swipe Collision
The Champion Firm obtained a successful result for a client who sustained a low back injury when a car side-swiped him. Our client was traveling down a two lane road when a car to his right suddenly came into his lane and hit the side of his SUV. The property damage was not that serious, which can be a major problem in a car accident case. Many insurance companies will use the absence of significant damage to argue that the crash could not have possibly caused any injuries. Unsurprisingly, Liberty Mutual, which was the insurance company for the at-fault driver, sent us numerous letters early in the case explaining that it would not consider any medical treatment beyond an initial doctor’s visit because the property damage was so small our client could not have possibly been injured.
Settlement with Liberty Mutual
Our client was young and did not have a history of prior back problems. However, shortly after the wreck, he started experiencing low back pain. He went to the emergency room the night of the wreck to get evaluated. X-rays did not show any broken bones. He then started treating with a chiropractor. When that did not resolve his symptoms, he started seeing an orthopedic doctor. The doctor ordered an MRI. The MRI showed that our client had a bulging disc in his low back. The doctor determined that the bulging disc was causing his symptoms. The doctor provided conservative treatment at first that included medication and injections into the low back.
The at-fault driver’s insurance policy with Liberty Mutual only provided $50,000 in insurance coverage. Because our client’s medical treatment was extensive and he had an injury to a disc in his spine, we sent Liberty Mutual a demand for the full policy limits even though our client was still receiving treatment. Although it had earlier said it would not offer any money for injuries because of the minimal property damage, Liberty Mutual agreed to pay the full $50,000.
Client Undergoes Surgery
When the conservative medical treatment did not work, the doctor recommended surgery. Approximately two years after the wreck, our client had a surgery on his low back called a laminectomy. In a laminectomy, the surgeon removes part of the vertebrae or trims it to widen the spinal canal. This can help relieve pressure on the spinal column because it creates more space for the nerves and structures of the spine.
Additional Settlement Reached with USAA
Around the time the surgery was performed, The Champion Firm filed a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. Because she had already settled, we could not get any additional money from her or her insurance company. However, our client had uninsured motorist coverage with USAA. Uninsured motorist coverage applies if the negligent driver either has no insurance or not enough insurance to cover all the damages. As a result, we filed the lawsuit and served USAA as the uninsured motorist carrier.
USAA’s attorney took our client’s deposition and we took the deposition of the negligent driver. USAA agreed to mediation after those depositions were over. After a nearly all day mediation, the parties were able to reach a settlement for $125,000 in uninsured motorist coverage. This brought the total settlement amount recovered for our client to $175,000.