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Automobile Accident with Prior Injuries

44 year old woman v. “at fault” driver and her own insurance company for UIM coverage

Facts and Legal Principle Involved

This case involved an extremely important “medical evidence” issue that was critical to proving our client’s case. Our client had been in a prior motor vehicle crash and suffered a neck injury serious enough to require surgery. In the new case we were handling for her, where her car was rear-ended, she suffered a similar neck injury and again required surgery. The two insurance companies defending the claims blamed all of her current problems on her prior injury and surgery, and claimed the new surgery was needed only because she already had a bad neck.

Case Review

Our client was a 44 year old woman who was rear-ended on the freeway. Although the other driver was at fault in causing the crash, the property damage was relatively slight, and repair costs were just over $2,000.

The case was complicated by the fact that our client not only had the prior neck injury and surgery, but was treating for neck symptoms almost up to the time of her new crash. In the months following her new crash, she continued to work and had little medical treatment, seeing mainly a chiropractor. As he condition worsened, she ultimately did have to stop working and obtained more medical treatment. Her neck surgery was performed about 9 months after the crash

We knew from our experience that we needed to convincingly show that the new crash was the major reason she ultimately missed work and needed a second neck surgery, and also the reason her neck was so much worse now.

The key to making a convincing case was to go through all of her medical records in great detail with her treating doctor (who saw her both before and after this second crash) to show that she was getting better before the second crash, and how much worse she was after. This doctor then wrote a very favorable report that we presented to the two insurance companies involved.

Resolution

We first made a claim against the insurance company for the driver that rear-ended her. The medical report her doctor wrote after meeting with us was convincing enough that this insurance company paid a majority of its six figure policy limits. We then made a claim against her own insurance company for “Underinsured Motorist” (UIM) coverage, which is insurance that applies when the at-fault driver does not have enough liability insurance to pay for the injuries they caused. Once again, we were able to settle for most of the limits of this coverage.

Impact

Because we were able to meet with our client’s treating doctor and obtain a very favorable report that accurately showed how the second crash was the cause of her ongoing problems, we obtained a very favorable outcome for our client. We successfully made claims against both insurance companies (the “at fault” driver’s and her own insurance company for UIM coverage), which compensated our client for the serious injuries she suffered, including her wage loss and her medical bills.

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