Dell & Schaefer settle auto accident case for student rear ended on I-95
Author: Attorney Jason Macri
A 22 year-old Miami college student was injured when he was rear ended on his way to class. He was traveling southbound on I-95 in morning rush hour traffic which had begun to slow when he was rear ended by another young man who was using his cell phone and not paying attention to traffic up ahead. The impact was significant, causing the student’s head to whip forward and then back, striking the headrest of his vehicle. The young man who struck him immediately apologized and admitted that he just looked down at his cell phone for a quick second before the impact. The student knew something was wrong with his neck at that point but he refused an ambulance because he didn’t want to miss his class.
The next day, the student awoke and knew his neck problem was getting worse. His neck was very stiff and he experienced a great deal of pain every time he tried to turn his head. He decided to go to an urgent care center near his home. An x-ray of his neck was taken which showed that there were no fractures or dislocated bones. He was discharged from the urgent care center and instructed to seek follow-up care with a spine specialist. He waited a few days to see if the pain would subside but it did not so he made an appointment with a local chiropractor. The chiropractor was able to look at the x-ray taken at the urgent care center but felt an MRI would help determine if there was any soft tissue damage. The MRI was ordered and when the results came back, the student finally found out what was causing all of his pain. He was diagnosed with a herniated disk at C3-C4, which is essentially a neck injury to the tissue between the 3rd and 4th vertebrae of the spine.
The student was immediately referred to a spinal specialist who also noted the neck injury. The specialist recommended a series of injections which would hopefully alleviate the pain. The specialist was of the opinion that if the injections did not help, a surgery may be required. Clearly this was not good news. The student had such an extreme fear of medical procedures that even the mere thought of getting spinal injections made him cringe. He rejected all of the specialist’s recommendations and instead, opted for the much more conservative care offered by the chiropractor. He was warned that his spinal condition could be made much worse if he opted to continue with chiropractic care but he simply couldn’t bring himself to undergo any of the recommended procedures.
A claim was made against the other driver and his insurance company. We demanded compensation of $250,000.00 considering our client’s potential need for a future surgery. The insurance company rejected our initial compensation demands, insulting our client with an offer of $2,800.00. The insurance company argued that his neck injury was pre-existing but could not point to any prior accidents or injuries. Instead they argued that because our client played baseball in high school, his neck was already degenerative. They decided that his neck issues were not the result of this accident but rather the result of a few seasons playing outfield for the varsity squad.
Clearly, the insurance company was not acting in good faith. We filed a lawsuit right away. A few days later, we were contacted by a different adjuster from the insurance company who was just recently assigned the case. The new adjuster seemed to be much more experienced because she abandoned the whole high school baseball argument. Instead, she made a reasonable settlement offer. After a few days of negotiating, we had a deal and the lawsuit was dropped based on a settlement of over $100,000.00. Our client was able to pay all outstanding medical bills and receive some compensation that would afford him medical care well into the future. Though he was very clear that he would not be getting any surgery in the near future, he was compensated well enough to receive conservative care for many years to come.