Blume Donnelly Partner, Kenneth W. Elwood, represented a 46 year-old woman who was involved in two motor vehicle accidents ten months apart. The woman did not have any prior claims or accidents, but had regularly treated with the same chiropractor for ten years prior to these car accidents for back and neck adjustments. She had never had an MRI during that time.
In the first accident a tractor trailer that had edged out into traffic beyond a stop sign, "lightly" struck the side of our client's vehicle. It was not a significant impact as indicted by the minor damage to her car; and she did not have any immediate medical treatment. Subsequently, but before her second accident, she began a course of treatment for back and neck complaints; and had MRI studies that suggested both a bulging and a herniated disc in her lower back.
Ten months later, the woman was rear ended on the highway by a driver who had minimal accident liability coverage ($15,000). She described that accident as a "hard impact". It was not until after this second accident that the client underwent two spine surgeries.
The tractor trailer defendant (which had adequate insurance coverage), claimed that the first accident was minimal, and could not have caused the spine damage from which our client suffered. They hired a biomechanical engineer who quantified the force of the first accident, and opined that impact was less than 5 mph; which could not have caused the back injuries.
Their medical experts concurred, pointed to the existence of the prior chiropractic treatment as proof of a preexisting spine condition, and opined that the surgeries were the result of that preexisting condition and the injury sustained in the second car accident where the collision was more significant.
Mr. Elwood worked with an engineer who was able to show that the defense expert underestimated the degree of force of the first accident with the tractor trailer. In addition, Ken worked with our client's treating doctors to show how the first accident contributed to the eventual need for the surgeries.
Despite the many problematic issues surrounding the etiology of our client's injuries and conditions, Ken Elwood was able to settle this matter for $500,000.
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