$3.1 Million Settlement for Failure to Diagnose Spinal Fracture

Blume Donnelly partner Carol L. Forte represented a woman in this case who was injured when struck by a pickup truck while riding her motorcycle. She was flown to a major trauma center and evaluated in the emergency room. Numerous broken bones were found, but a fracture of her vertebrae (spine) was not found for two days. When it was discovered, surgery was scheduled for the next afternoon to stabilize the spinal fracture. During those two days she had received blood thinners to prevent blood clots from developing. On the morning of the third day in the hospital, she was found to be paralyzed from the waist down. Surgery was done immediately, but blood had accumulated around the spinal fracture, compressing the spinal cord, resulting in permanent damage and paralysis. The Plaintiff claimed that the fracture should have been discovered sooner, and that she should not have received blood thinners until a spinal fracture had been ruled out, because of the risk that they could cause additional bleeding at the fracture site. The defense claimed that the spinal injury was so severe that the paralysis would have occurred regardless. The case settled for $3.1 million. A motion is pending which will determine whether the plaintiff will receive an additional two hundred thousand dollars from her automobile policy’s underinsurance coverage.