Permanent Impairment of lower leg + Diagnosis of Head Injury = $1 Million Settlement
While driving home from the grocery store, a 22-year-old woman’s vehicle was broadsided by a driver who ran a stop sign.
The young woman (plaintiff) was transported by ambulance to the hospital. Her complaints upon arrival were of pain in the right ankle and heel, headache and pain in the left wrist. The emergency room (ER) physician noted upon examination a clearly visible distortion and contusions to the right ankle, as well as swelling of the nose and upper lip and blood on her nose.
A CT Scan of the plaintiff’s right foot showed a fracture of the heel bone, which was surrounded by very small fracture fragments. It also revealed complete disruption of the subtalar joint. Fifteen days after the cash, plaintiff underwent surgery to repair the heel. The prognosis offered by the orthopedic surgeon at that time was that plaintiff had a permanent loss of function of 20% in the lower right leg. The surgeon also indicated that a fusion of the damaged joint would be necessary at some time in the future.
After being discharged from the hospital, plaintiff and her mother began to observe memory problems, nervousness, anxiety, flash backs, nightmares, and insomnia. When plaintiff reported these symptoms to her primary care physician, she was referred to a specialist. The specialist diagnoses with a concussion or mild traumatic brain injury, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The experts retained by the defendant disputed the brain injury. Further, they attempted to categorize the plaintiff as lazy and said she was exaggerating her symptoms. With backing of plaintiff’s friends, co-workers, and family, a completely different picture of the plaintiff emerged, including her focus throughout her recovery on the need of her young children. Plaintiff’s attorney stated the belief that no jury would believe the picture the defense was trying to paint of her if the case went to trial.
Plaintiff and her attorney called upon a Richmond-based company (Medvisuals) to construct a model of the ankle that would demonstrate the nature and extent of her injuries.
Prior to trial, the matter was settled in mediation for the plaintiff. Compensation awarded was $1 million.
Sometimes injuries sustained in a car crash are worse than they appear and worse than defendants are prepared to accept. The ability to obtain and use models of the kind developed for this case moves many injury cases forward because that make it so much easier for juries and defense attorneys to see and understand these injuries.