Recent Settlement Case Studies

Important reminder: Every case really is different.
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Hasbrook & Hasbrook
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Here are some recent case studies we’ve compiled. Note that we’ve rounded the numbers out for confidentiality, so the dollar amounts are approximated (within $600). Some of the results are excellent based on the facts, while others are relatively normal for the industry.

Grocery Store Slip & Fall

The Incident
The plaintiff slipped on a clear liquid near the checkout lane at a large grocery store chain. It was a cleaning solution that an employee had spilled from the counter and had left it there.

Major Hurdle: Preexisting Health Conditions
The plaintiff had a spinal fusion surgery over 30 years before the fall. Since that time, she had a lengthy history of back pain and surgeries. Her treating doctors were unable to definitively determine the impact of the fall on her preexisting back condition. She underwent back surgery about three years after the incident.

Injuries: The incident exacerbated the plaintiff’s preexisting back issues, causing increased back pain and spasms. Subsequent medical imaging suggested the need for additional therapy and medication.

Settlement: The case settled at the second mediation for $150,000. About $8,000 was paid back to the health insurance company for its subrogation claim.  Legal fees were $60,000, and case and court costs were approximately $5,000, resulting in a net recovery of roughly $77,000 to the plaintiff.

Rear-End Collision with Minimal Property Damage

Issues with the Case: Whiplash from minimal (less than $800 to repair the vehicle) property damage car accident, and a preexisting health condition.

Injuries: An MRI revealed a Chiari malformation, and the patient underwent physical therapy. Ongoing symptoms included neck, back, and headache pain, with recommended surgery for the Chiari malformation (which was present, as well as headaches, before the wreck).

The case was settled at Mediation after all depositions had been completed.

Settlement Amount: $60,000.00

Case Costs: $3000

Net Recovery to Client: $29000

Pickup Truck Hits the Side of Car

A female in her late 40s was t-boned by a pickup truck that failed to stop at an intersection.

Potential Issues with the Case: Delay in getting a proper diagnosis.

The plaintiff initially sought treatment with a chiropractor about a week after the wreck and had about 20 chiropractic treatment sessions for neck and back pain. The chiropractor released her from his treatment, stating her condition was about 60-80% improved.

However, about five months after the wreck, she was still having problems with her back and (now) shoulder.  So, she went to an “accident treatment” doctor. They continued physical therapy until eventually, referring her to an orthopedic doctor approximately ten months after the wreck. The ortho diagnosed a partial thickness tear in her shoulder and repaired it with arthroscopy, decompression, and debridement.

The case was referred to us by another law firm. We settled the case for the liability policy limits of $100k. The net recovery to the plaintiff was about $28k.

Side Collision Accident

An 18-year-old male was a passenger in a vehicle when they were sideswiped by another car. He was transported via ambulance to the nearest emergency room and was diagnosed with neck and back strains. He followed up with a chiropractor, had treatments for a couple of weeks, and was released from care. He did not miss any work due to the wreck.

The law firm that referred this case to us does not handle these more “minor” cases. The case settled pre-suit for $4,250, with a net recovery of $1300.

Rear-Ended on Roadway

The plaintiff, 17 at the time of the wreck, was a front-seat passenger in a rear-ended vehicle while they were slowing down for traffic. The property damage to the car was less than $1k. She was fully recovered within 4-6 weeks after the wreck.

The insurance company refused to make an offer above the medical bills until after a lawsuit was filed. The case was settled for $9k about a month after the suit was filed. The payment to the client after all fees, costs, and medical bills were paid was $2600.

Premises Liability at Residential House

This was an unusual case. A child was at a neighborhood friend’s house when he stepped on a knife. His foot required stitches, but he did not need any follow-up treatment. Liability was initially denied, but the case was settled after filing a lawsuit for $5,500.00. Attorney fees:  $1,375.00. Case costs: $427.04. Net recovery to the Plaintiff: $3,330.85.

Note: A judge approved the settlement since the plaintiff is a minor. His settlement funds went into a Minor Trust Account, which he will have access to once he turns 18 or before if he gets a court order to access them.

Truck Accident While on The Job

A truck driver in his late 30s was involved in a collision while his semi-truck was parked. He suffered bruising to his head, elbow, and wrist.

He initially went to the ER and received a CT scan. Shortly after, he went to an orthopedic doctor, who prescribed physical therapy and an MRI. He received injections for shoulder tendonitis and was released from treatment about six months after the wreck. He returned to work approximately 2.5 months post-accident.

Concurrently, he had a workers’ compensation case, with the worker’s comp insurance paying around $44k for his lost income and medical expenses. The work comp carrier had a “right to reimbursement” from any 3rd party settlement. Its claim was for $44k, but agreed to reduce it to $13k.

The case settled for the policy limits of $30k.  Fees and costs totaled $7700; the net to the Plaintiff was a little over $9k, plus the payments from the worker’s comp carrier.

Car Falls Onto Another Car

This was a particularly unusual case that another law firm referred to us. In his early 60s, the plaintiff was riding in a car with his friend when a vehicle drove off the road onto their vehicle.

The medical treatment included an ambulance to the ER, where he received CT scans and X-rays. He was diagnosed with a partial rotator cuff tear, capsulitis, and tendinosis in his shoulder, which did not require surgery. He completed physical therapy treatment and was released from medical care about six weeks after the accident.

The liability insurance company initially would not off its insured’s policy limits ($50k) on the case because the Plaintiff’s “incurred” medical bills were less than $10k, and his shoulder injury included a prior partial tear, so a lawsuit was filed.

The insurance company tendered their policy limits shortly after the suit was filed.  The plaintiff was disabled before the wreck and was on Social Security Disability Insurance. Hence, his proceeds needed to be placed into a Medicare Set Aside Trust to protect his continued SSDI payments. After all fees and case costs were paid, he received a little over $25k from the settlement.

Rear End Collision at Traffic Light While on the Job

The plaintiff, an HVAC repairman near retirement age, was involved in a rear-end car accident while on the job. He initially did not feel the need for immediate hospitalization and reported to the police officer at the accident scene that he wasn’t hurt.

Other case issues: His serious injuries weren’t diagnosed until years later. As a career repairman, he had a lot of wear and tear on his body, so it was difficult to pin the later injuries and surgeries directly on the car accident.

Day after the wreck: He experienced soreness all over his body. X-rays were taken, showing degenerative changes and curvature in the spine but no acute fractures. Pain medication was prescribed.

5 Days after the wreck, he continued to suffer from pain, leading to additional medical evaluations and referrals, but he did not start physical therapy until a month later. His main complaint at this time was lower back and neck pain.

2 Months Post-Accident: Despite ongoing therapy, he continued to experience pain, so he continued physical therapy.

3 Months Post-Accident: An MRI revealed mild degenerative disc disease and facet arthrosis.

Over the next year, his condition fluctuated, with persistent pain and discomfort despite various treatments, including chiropractic care, medication adjustments, and physical therapy.

Before we were hired to work on this case, a different law firm filed a lawsuit on his behalf but later dismissed the case “without prejudice.” This allows for the case to be refiled within one year. We were hired to co-counsel on the case shortly before the one-year deadline lapsed.

Back to the medical treatment. 3 Years Post-Accident: He developed shoulder pain, leading to a rotator cuff diagnosis. Subsequently, surgery was performed. Post-surgery, he continued to struggle with pain and mobility issues, necessitating ongoing physical therapy and medical evaluations.

Approximately 4 Years Post-Accident: He received a cervical diskectomy and fusion. This was contentious with the insurance defense lawyers as early MRIs only showed mild issues.

With the trial date looming but before the “discovery cutoff,” the parties agreed to a mediation. The mediation failed after several hours, with the parties having drastically different opinions on what the case should settle for.

We then had more discovery and a deposition of the defendant company driver, and both parties agreed to attempt a second mediation. The case settled for $300k. The case costs were about $5k. The plaintiff received $98k after all attorney fees, costs, and the worker’s comp subrogation reimbursement. He had already received about $100k under his worker’s comp plan to pay for his missed work.

Premises Liability: Tripping Over a Pallet

A gentleman in his early 90s tripped over a pallet at a retail store. The “open and obvious” defense complicated the case and was referred to us by another law firm close to the 2-year statute of limitations deadline. The prior law firm could not settle the case and was unwilling to file a lawsuit.

Liability Issue: The plaintiff had already walked by and stepped over the pallet before returning to the aisle. Businesses have a defense if the “dangerous condition” is “open and obvious.” Since he had already walked by there, the defense had a strong argument for getting the case dismissed if the judge agreed with their version of what happened.

The case settled for $25k shortly before the motion to dismiss hearing.

Rear-end Collision with Delay in Medical Treatment

The plaintiff was involved in a rear-end collision while waiting to make a left-hand turn. She immediately had knee pain and subsequent headaches, neck and upper back pain starting the next day.

The problem? Her first visit to a doctor after the wreck was 1.5 months after the accident.

Initial Treatment Recommendations: Usage of hot/cold gel packs, Biofreeze, a memory foam pillow, physiotherapy five times over the next week, Ibuprofen 800mg, an articulated knee brace, and X-rays of the cervical, thoracic spine, and right knee were recommended. An MRI of the right knee was also ordered.

Diagnostic Imaging: X-rays showed no abnormalities in the thoracic spine or right knee, but an MRI revealed a complex tear of the medial meniscus in the right knee.

She continued physical therapy until she saw an orthopedic surgeon about three months after the wreck because her knee had worsened. The doctor recommended knee arthroscopy to repair the tear.

Because of the delay in treatment, the insurance company initially refused to offer more than the medical bills. The case settled for the policy limits of $50k shortly after a lawsuit was filed. After $24k for medical bills, attorney fees, and case costs, the net payment to the client was $15k.

Disputed Liability Motorcycle Accident

The defendant driver failed to yield at an intersection, causing a collision with a motorcyclist.

Issues with the case: The defendant claimed the plaintiff was going way too fast on his motorcycle for the intersection because she never saw him before she turned left. The other issue was that the plaintiff did not attend any scheduled physical therapy appointments, so all medical bills were from the ER visit. He did not miss any work due to the accident.

The case was settled for $14,5000 after the parties exchanged discovery and after the plaintiff’s deposition. After fees, case costs, and medical bills, the plaintiff received $5k.

Car Accident with Soft Tissue Injuries and Complex Medical History

The plaintiff initially went to the ER three days after the accident. She was diagnosed with muscle strains and had complaints of headaches. She then waited three months before seeking physical therapy.

Issues:

  1. She had a long medical history with pain management doctors and chronic migraines before the accident. She had been to various pain management doctors in the past, including denial of medication due to existing prescriptions from other providers.
  2. She would either decline recommended physical therapy appointments or skip them after they were scheduled.
  3. Some of the doctors who treated her for the car accident also noted that she had “multiple presentations with differing symptoms” that were supposedly related to the accident.

The defense attorney filed an “Offer to Confess Judgment” for $9k. This allows the defense to get their case costs back after the Offer is made if the verdict is for that amount or less.

The case ended up settling a few days before trial for $25k. After attorney fees, case costs, and medical bills were paid, the client received $10k.

Premises Liability: Slip and Fall at a Large Retail/Grocery Store

This case was referred by a law firm that was unable to get the case resolved, but the statute of limitations was to occur that same month. So, we filed the lawsuit immediately.

In her early 70s, the plaintiff slipped on water on the floor in the produce section.

Main issues with the Case:

The initial “hurdle” (like most slip and fall cases) was showing that the store either created the hidden danger or that the company had enough time to reasonably know about it, clean it up, or warn customers about it. Luckily for the plaintiff, the security video showed nothing getting spilled on the floor in the 1 hour before she fell. So, the puddle was there for at least an hour.

The second “hurdle” was her medical treatment. She went to the ER immediately after the fall with complaints of left ankle and shoulder pain. X-rays showed no fractures or dislocation.

She then waited a month to seek further treatment at a Medical Center. A CT scan showed multilevel degenerative disc disease. (degenerative is the opposite of “acute” as she already had the disc disease). She was given Toradol and referred to physical therapy.

1.5 months after the fall, she started having neck and hip pain, where she received chiropractic treatment. The defense attorneys said this treatment was utterly unrelated to the fall.

Three months after the fall, she declined a recommended cervical injection but ended up getting it a few weeks later.

A pre-suit offer of $8,000 was made on this case when the previous law firm represented her.

The case was settled at mediation for $50k. After case costs, attorney fees, and paying her medical bills, she received $15k.

Head-On Collision with a Drunk Driver

A drunk driver veered left of center, hitting our client head-on. Amazingly, the only injuries were a distal radius (the part connected to the wrist joint) fracture and a bruise from the seatbelt to her chest.

Our client was in a “thumb spica cast” for about a month, followed by another month of physical therapy for her wrist.

She had full range of motion, and her wrist had fully healed about nine months after the wreck. She did not miss any work due to the wreck.

The “policy limit” on this case was $50k, but the client had zero interest in pursuing a lawsuit to get the remaining policy amount. The case settled pre-suit for $42k. After the medical bills and fees/costs were paid, she received just under $19k.

Low-Impact Wreck at Red Light

Our client was stopped at a red light. The light turned green, so he started going forward when the driver behind him didn’t notice the car in front of him (inattention), rear-ending our client.

Due to a headache and neck pain, Plaintiff drove to the ER later that night and was diagnosed with a neck sprain and prescribed naproxen. He received no follow-up treatment, so all the medical bills were from the ER.

He could not get an offer from the insurance company for more than the medical bills before hiring us. The case settled pre-suit for $7k. The client received about $ 4,500 after paying fees, costs, and medical bills.

Rear-End Collision with Accident 10 Months Prior

The plaintiff, while wearing her seatbelt, had slowed down for traffic. She was rear-ended while she was going about 15 mph. She went to the ER for back and neck pain. However, she was in a serious car wreck the year before.

She underwent conservative chiropractic and physical therapy for several months and fully recovered after treatment.

She did not miss any work due to the accident.

The case was settled shortly after filing a lawsuit for $17k. The medical bills were a little over $11k. The client received about $5k after the medical bills and attorney fees were reduced.

Wreck While Driving to a Knee Surgery Follow-Up Appointment.

This was unusual because the client had knee surgery about a month before the wreck. She had slowed down for traffic on I-40 during rush hour. She was rear-ended shortly after she came to a stop. The defendant initially claimed that there was no impact between the vehicles.

The initial challenge was deciphering what treatment was related to her prior knee injury (because she was still undergoing physical therapy) and what was related to the wreck.

She went to the ER immediately after the accident. Her initial complaints were neck pain and headaches, but she later had knee pain. An MRI post-accident showed degenerative changes in the knee but nothing acute from the accident. This case was a referral from a prior client.

The case settled for a little over $56k. After fees/costs and medical bills, she received $29k.