$3,500,000 Settlement After Medical Expert Shows Fault Of Defendant In Motor Vehicle Accident Case

 By: J. Hernandez
In the event that a vehicle accident claim involves comparatively modest injuries and will probably be resolved with a rather modest settlement or award the economics involved make it improbable that either side will hire an expert witness. The expense incurred by using an expert witness could easily be more than the amount that will probably be recovered in the claim. In cases with major injuries and enough insurance or assets are available for a substantial recovery and the defense is disputing liability, however, getting the right expert may make all the difference.

To illustrate, in one reported lawsuit an elderly man was driving his car when he lost control and caused a car accident in which he hit a bicyclist. The bicyclist was riding along a bike path next to the road. He was forty years old. After hitting the bicyclist the automobile continued and slammed into a telephone pole. The driver sustained extensive trauma to the chest area and died at the scene of the accident prior to any medical personnel came to the accident scene.

The victim suffered a head injury that left him in a coma and left him with permanent brain damage. After awaking from the coma it was obvious that he would never be able to go back to his own home. He will likely never be able to return to work either. The victim will most likely require lifelong care in a rehabilitation facility or institution. The cost of his medical treatment up to the time was in excess of $500,000.

The defense claimed they were not to blame for the accident. The autopsy of the driver showed that he had experienced a heart attack. The defense claimed that the defendant had had a sudden heart attack which is what caused him to lose control of his car and hit the plaintiff. The argument is that if the accident was caused not by the driver's negligence, but by a medical emergency, then the driver was not responsible and the plaintiff could not win his case. With (1) the availability of sufficient insurance for a sizeable recovery, (1) a lifelong devastating injury to the victim and his family, and (2) the defense disputing fault by arguing that a medical emergency was the reason for the accident, this was one of those situations where the attorney needs to look got an expert who can definitively show liability.

Slides of the defendant's heart tissue were examined by a medical expert retained by the law firm representing the plaintiff. The medical expert established that the heart attack took place after the accident. Indeed, the medical expert determined that it was the trauma the driver suffered to the chest from slamming into the telephone pole which triggered the heart attack. By bringing in the medical expert the law firm was able to show the liability of the driver.

The law firm documented that, equipped with this critical information, it was able to recover a settlement in the case for $3,500,000. Of this amount, $1,000,000 was for the victim's wife who had a claim for loss of consortium. This claim illustrates that facts which at first appear detrimental to a claim could in reality be just what will lead to a settlement when it is placed in the proper framework. The case illustrates that under some circumstances retaining an expert with just the right type of expertise might make all the difference in the outcome of the case. Finally, the lawsuit demonstrates the importance of not letting the defense position the lawsuit.
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