I settled a case for $100,000 (gross) for my client who claimed that a car crash caused his a herniated disc in his neck (C5-C6).
All settlements in this article are before deduction for attorney’s fees and expenses. Most cases result in a lower recovery. It should not be assumed that your case will have as beneficial a result.
He drove his car into an 18-wheeler tractor-trailer. The truck cut him off. The settlement was in January 2012.
The car that my client was driving is in the picture. I discuss the settlement below:
The 18-wheeler had $750,000 or so of liability insurance with Zurich Insurance Company.
A picture of the damage to the truck is below:
The actual diagram from the Florida Traffic Crash Report is below.
I argued that the truck driver was at fault for several reasons:
- The truck failed to yield the right of way when it tried to make a left hand turn in front of my client’s car.
- My client had a steady green light at the time of the accident.
- I got the witness to sign an affidavit (statement), which helped prove that the truck driver was at fault.
- Truck drivers are held to a higher standard of care compared to a driver of a car such as my client.
Cause of Injuries
As you can see from the picture in this article, my client’s car was badly damaged. It is easier to prove that a herniated disc is related to a car accident when you can show the insurance company (or jury) pictures of a badly damaged vehicle.
This is particularly true when you are dealing with someone who is 40 years old or older who is claiming that the herniated disc is related to the crash.
This is because some doctors say that many 40 year olds have a herniated disc and don’t even know it.
Property damage is less important if the injured person who is making a claim is young (let’s say 20 years old or so) because most 20 year olds do not have a herniate disc.
My client’s doctor claimed that the herniated disc in his neck was related to the crash. If I filed a lawsuit, I would have expected Zurich Insurance to hire an orthopedic doctor who may have said:
- My client had a bulging disc and not a herniated disc. (Bulging disc settlements are using smaller than a settlement where the injury is a herniated disc.)
- If my client did have a herniated disc (or even disc bulge) it was not related to the crash. Many doctors hired by the insurance company for the at-fault driver say that many 40 year olds (or older) have a herniated disc even if the client doesn’t know that he or she has one.
- The herniated disc is not a permanent injury. I am not sure whether my client would have to prove that he had a permanent injury in this accident in order to get money for pain and suffering because I believe that the truck was registered/titled in another state (not Florida).
My client was taken to the hospital by fire rescue. At the hospital, he was told he might have a fractured vertebra and he was transferred to another hospital.
At the second hospital, he was told that he did not have a neck fracture. He treated with a neurologist and received a few months of physical therapy for his neck.
My client did not want to have surgery on his neck. Baptist Hospital would not reduce my client’s medical bill. This is probably because Baptist was aware that my client received over 1/3 of the total settlement.
Some hospitals are more likely to lower their bill when they know that the client is getting less than 1/3 of the total injury settlement. My client feels well right now.
My attorney’s fees were paid from the total settlement and my client received a check for over half of the total settlement. Zurich is an above average insurance company in terms of making a fair offer in a personal injury case.
I believe that this resulted in a larger presuit settlement than if the truck had been insured by State Farm Insurance, GEICO, Progressive, Allstate and many others because they generally make smaller offers when there is plenty of liability insurance.
An injury case is worth a certain amount, but your hopes of reaching a settlement before a lawsuit are higher if you are dealing with an above average insurance company such as Zurich.
If my client would not have settled with Zurich Insurance Company before a lawsuit, Zurich probably would have used an attorney who probably would have argued that my client was partially at-fault for not stopping in time before driving into the side of the truck.
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