The Injury Law Center is Proud to Announce a $100,000 Settlement
The Injury Law Center is proud to announce a $100,000 settlement, representing the full available policy limit, which was reached on the second day of trial at Middlesex Superior Court, Woburn, Massachusetts.
This case involved a middle-aged woman who was rear ended in a motor vehicle collision while she was stopped for a family of pedestrians crossing in a marked crosswalk in downtown Lexington, MA. The defendant motorist took his eyes off road while changing the radio station when approaching the subject intersection. He didn’t observe the pedestrians, or that the vehicle in front of him had stopped.
The defendant claimed to have slammed on the brakes, however our client never heard screeching tires. She also never observed skid marks on the roadway subsequent to being hit. Our client was struck with a considerable amount of force and her rear trunk was completely caved in.
Our client sustained a severe injury to her left shoulder. When a motorist is struck from behind, their body is trust back and then forward. When the body is thrust forward, the seat belt restricts against their left shoulder causing trauma to the left shoulder joint. Additionally, if a motorist is gripping the steering wheel with locked elbows, the force can cause derangement to the shoulder joint as well. This mechanism is something we typically see and was present in this case.
What made this case interesting is that our client was involved in a motor vehicle collision approximately half a year earlier. In that accident, our client underwent an MRI which revealed that she had osteo arthritis in the left shoulder with degeneration of her labral cartilage. The labrum is the cartilage in the socket of the shoulder where the head of the humerus inserts. In short, she had a pre-existing left shoulder injury.
But in this case, our client underwent an exploratory surgery of her left shoulder and was found to have sustained a type IV SLAP tear. SLAP is an acronym which stands for Superior (upper) Labrum (described above) Anterior (front) Posterior (back). Essentially, our client sustained a traumatic tear to the upper portion of her labrum from front to back. This type of tear is so severe that it is almost exclusively seen after an traumatic event; it’s not caused by degeneration.
Nonetheless, the insurance company in this case argued just that. They said that the SLAP tear wasn’t associated with the more recent rear end collision, but instead was a product of the pre-existing degenerative condition.
It has been our experience that insurance companies routinely make this “pre-existing injury” argument during the claims evaluation stage of a case as a way to try and avoid paying the claimant rightful compensation. Either the adjusters don’t know, or don’t care about the law.
There is a legal concept in Massachusetts, and New Hampshire for that matter, which is known as an “Aggravation of a Pre-Existing Medical Condition.” What that legal concept means is that the defendant must take the injured party as they find him/her – whether they are middle aged with wear and tear to their body, or whether they are a young Olympic athlete. If that injured party has a pre-existing medical condition which is aggravated, or made worse, by a defendant’s negligent conduct they can still recover.
In the beginning of this case, the insurance company made us a low-ball offer. This was likely by design – to force us into litigation. Litigation can only benefit the insurance company. (1.) First, this insurance company had in-house counsel which we believe to be salaried employees instead of attorneys who bill by the hour. (2.) Second, the longer they hold onto the money, the more interest they can make off investing it. (3.) Third, the longer the case is dragged out, the more discouraged the claimant will become. Eventually, most claimants compromise their bottom line and agree to a settlement below the case’s true value.
The only way to win is to go to trial. We commend our client for sticking to her guns and being fully prepared to go to take a verdict. That was the only way to get the insurance company to pay the full policy limit.