Recently, our personal injury team successfully negotiated a significant monetary settlement for a client injured in a motor vehicle accident.
He was a passenger in a car driving through a traffic light intersection on Lincoln Highway in Caln Township, Chester County. His vehicle had a green light, but a driver coming from the other direction ran her red light. Another car in the vicinity was honking their horn to warn the driver of the oncoming crash, but she persisted to run the traffic light. Despite his best efforts, the driver of our client’s car could not break in time to avoid the other party’s car and T-boned the front passenger side.
When police and paramedics arrived on the scene, the client complained of pain in his head, neck, left chest area, and back. He requested to be ambulanced to Brandywine Hospital to be treated for his injuries. Doctors diagnosed him with acute thoracic back pain, a traumatic closed nondisplaced fracture of one rib left side, a closed head injury, and acute neck pain. He was prescribed medication and instructed to follow up with his primary care physician. Our client was discharged later on the night of December 7.
What Happened Following the Accident
Two days later, on December 9, 2014, he was readmitted to Brandywine Hospital for pneumonia, which likely developed from bronchitis that he was suffering from at the time of the accident. He was an inpatient at the hospital for three days due to the illness, until he was discharged on December 12.
In the following months, our client reported to multiple doctors complaining of ongoing back, neck, and shoulder pain caused by his injuries from the accident. He attended 18 physical therapy sessions at ATI Physical Therapy and was instructed to continue exercises at home.
Despite the physical therapy efforts, our client continued to have pain in his left shoulder and consulted with his orthopedic surgeon. His surgeon recommended shoulder surgery, noting that “the need for surgery is as a result of the motor vehicle accident.” He soon had surgery on his left rotator cuff to repair lasting damage that he suffered in the accident. The procedure was performed at First State Surgery Center on April 5, 2016. There were no complications, and our client once again attended physical therapy for rehabilitation.
Our client has car insurance through Nationwide Insurance, but has limited tort on his policy. Limited tort indicates that the policyholder knowingly elected to give up his right to sue for noneconomic damages in the case of an accident. This means that the victim will still receive compensation for out-of-pocket costs if the other driver is deemed to be at fault, but he cannot receive extra compensation for pain and suffering. However, the restrictions of limited tort can be circumvented in some specific situations.
One of these special circumstances occurs if the injured person has suffered a “serious impairment of body function” due to the automobile accident. In these cases, the focus of the investigation is not centered on the injuries themselves, but rather on how the injuries affected a certain body function, as well as the extent and duration of the impairment and the required treatment.
Although our client’s insurance was limited tort, our accident attorneys determined that his case applied to the “serious impairment of body function” exception. The car accident caused injuries that greatly disrupted his daily life. He spent countless hours attending doctor’s appointments, doing physical therapy, and undergoing a surgical treatment. He suffered from ongoing pain and was instructed to take multiple prescriptions. Additionally, the injuries rendered this client unable to work and he had difficulty sleeping due to the limited range of motion in his shoulder.
Personal injury attorney Stacy Knickerbocker took advantage of this exception to fight for compensation for pain and suffering for our client. Normally, limited tort restricts the policyholder from receiving compensation for pain and suffering or other non-monetary damages. However, it became clear to Ms. Knickerbocker that this particular client overcame his limited tort selection, based on the enduring pain he was experiencing.
Car Accident Case Settlement
The case reached a final settlement of $64,650 without filing a suit. The result is significant because of the restrictions of limited tort on the health insurance policy, which are difficult to overcome without experienced legal representation.
If you find yourself in a challenging legal situation after an automobile accident, the experienced and dedicated accident attorneys at Ciccarelli Law Offices can help. We can guide you through the entire judicial process and get the results you need for your recovery.