Recent Personal Injury Cases

Personal injury cases decided by a judge or jury can tell you quite a bit about the value and strength of your personal injury claim.  Here are several personal injury cases that have been recently decided.

A Broadside Brings a Big Verdict

A driver, claiming permanent spine damage, including several herniated discs, recovered a jury award of $1,264,638 in a motor vehicle accident case in Florida earlier this year. The defendant’s car broadsided the plaintiff’s vehicle  when the defendant ran a red light  Gomez sued both the negligent driver and his own insurer, seeking damages in excess of the limits of $100,000 on his underinsured motorist policy. Defendant Mosley did not have coverage for bodily injury. State Farm admitted Mosley’s negligence but disputed both causation and damages.

Gomez suffered neck injuries and had two separate surgical procedures to sever the spinal-cord nerve-roots to relieve pain. When this did not alleviate his pain, he underwent a total cervical disc replacement at C4-5.  Experts testified that his injuries were permanent, severe, and were caused by the accident.

State Farm has filed an appeal. Plaintiff’s counsel has also filed a bad faith claim against State Farm for its refusal to pay. That claim is pending.

Gomez v. Mosley and State Farm. (Florida)

Is It Negligence or Not?

A new year celebration in a bar turned into a serious injury when the plaintiff, a regular customer at defendant Silky Sullivan’s, went up to the bartender to tell her that she had won the football pool. In a burst of exuberance, the bartender unexpectedly jumped onto the plaintiff. The plaintiff, who had been at the bar for several hours, took an awkward step in the process and dislocated all of the metatarsal bones in his left foot. The plaintiff had to have three separate surgeries to correct the problem, including the insertion and removal of hardware in his foot.

The plaintiff contended that the bartender was negligent and caused his injury. The defendant contended that the bartender was not negligent, that the injury was the result of an accident, and that the plaintiff was drunk at the time causing his own injury.

An award of $148,890.32 was granted. The plaintiff’s economic damages (medical bills etc) were $38,890.32.  The jury found no negligence on the part of the plaintiff.

Kuzmic v. Sullivan’s Restaurant and Irish Pub (Orange County, CA) No appeal has been filed.

Virginia Slip and Fall: Dormant Pre-existing Condition Not a Bar to Recovery

Recently, in Virginia, a court awarded $181,076 in damages for a plaintiff who was injured on a sidewalk while exiting the defendant hospital. This case was decided by a judge rather than a jury.

As a result of the defect, a cracked sidewalk, the plaintiff fell and sustained a broken toe and a serious back injury. It was determined that the plaintiff had suffered a protruding disc as a result of the fall, resulting in eventual surgical correction.

The plaintiff, 79 year-old Anna Rockhill, filed a cause of action for premises liability against the hospital contending that the her injury was reasonably foreseeable given the hospital’s allowing the defect in the sidewalk to remain in a defective condition.

At trial, the plaintiff presented both witnesses and photographs of the cracked sidewalk.  The plaintiff had walked on the sidewalk several times before the injury as she had walked to and from  her car visiting her husband in the hospital, and thus the hospital contended that the plaintiff was contributorily negligent.

The hospital also contended that the crack or divot that caused the injury was not reasonably forseeable, in that it was small enough to be “trivial” as a matter of law. It also contended that the divot did not actually cause the plaintiff to fall and finally, it contended that the fall did not cause all of the plaintiff’s medical expenses.

The court disagreed. There was sufficient evidence presented that the plaintiff’s foot caught in the crack causing her to fall and that the hospital had known of the crack for a sufficient time to either fix the problem or warn people of its presence.

The plaintiff had a pre-existing back condition making her an “eggshell plaintiff” but the defendant was still responsible for all damages that it legally caused even if the plaintiff was more susceptible to injury because of a pre-existing condition. Here the plaintiff had some stenosis in her spine which was a “dormant” condition entitling her to recover full compensation for the injuries she sustained as a result of the defendant’s negligence.

Anna Rockhill v. Danbury Hospital (AC 37864) (Virginia)

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