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Minor Collision Causes Major Injuries: Betsy’s Story

Written by Tom Crosley
Client Stories

At Crosley Law Firm, we handle a lot of personal injury cases involving car wrecks. In some instances, a devastating crash can result in severe injuries that ultimately heal, and the victim goes on to make a full recovery. The flip side is that we also see many collisions that appear to be minor but that lead to life-changing and lifelong complications for victims. This was one such case.

In January of 2013, 43-year-old Charles G. was driving a Volkswagen Passat sedan with his wife Betsy G., a real estate agent, in the front seat. They were stopped in traffic at a red light in a small town in Texas. Behind them, driving a Ford Ranger pickup for a delivery service, Adam R. rear-ended their car.

BetsyDamageSufferedAlthough the impact was considered minor, Betsy G. suffered a concussion and was taken by ambulance to the emergency room. In the days, weeks, and months following the wreck, she suffered from many problems – physical, emotional, and mental. In the personal injury suit filed following the collision, she ultimately claimed a concussion; post-concussion syndrome; injury to the left hemisphere and frontal lobe; neurocognitive deficits; exacerbation of a preexisting seizure disorder; two separate episodes of status epilepticus, which is a medical emergency in which the brain is in a persistent state of seizure for more than five minutes; neck sprains and strains; and a torn left rotator cuff with impingement.

Despite suffering from a wide range of problems, the brain injuries and seizure disorder were the main focus of her damages claim. According to her neuropsychology expert, testing revealed neurocognitive deficits consistent with injury to the left hemisphere and the frontal lobe. This was particularly troublesome since Betsy had preexisting epilepsy that was controlled by medication with episodes occurring only about once every two years. After the accident, however, her epilepsy became markedly worse: she experienced an episode of status epilepticus only a few days after the crash and again a few months later.

In the wake of the crash, her injuries prevented her from driving and from working. Furthermore, she underwent physical therapy for her neck pain and required arthroscopic shoulder surgery.
The plaintiffs – Charles and Betsy G. – enlisted the help of Crosley Law Firm and sued Adam R. for negligently rear-ending them. They alleged that Adam R. was distracted by his cell phone at or near the time of the crash and that his driver’s license had expired approximately a week before the incident. They also sued the delivery service company, alleging that they had failed to enforce company policies relating to driver training and drivers’ licenses.

Naturally, the defense vehemently fought these accusations. For example, Adam R. denied that he was using his cell phone. He claimed that he stopped about 5 feet behind the plaintiffs and that, when he saw their brake lights turn off, he pressed the accelerator before realizing that they were still stopped.

Additionally, while Crosley Law Firm’s accident reconstruction expert estimated Adam R.s’ impact speed at 15 to 20 miles per hour, the defense accident reconstruction expert estimated the impact speed of Adam R. at 8 to 10 miles per hour. Because of this disparity (and citing that there was very little damage to either vehicle), the defense argued that the impact was very minor and did not cause Betsy’s injuries. The defense even went so far as to purchase exemplar vehicles and conduct a crash recreation, which supposedly confirmed that Adam R. was going only 8 miles per hour.

As for Betsy’s injuries, the defense argued that, if any, the injuries were preexisting and that, at most, the accident exacerbated her preexisting condition. For example, the defense psychiatric expert asserted that Betsy sustained only a mild concussion that should have resolved within a few weeks. The defense also strongly disputed Betsy’s claimed life care plan.

Despite the arguments of the defense, Crosley Law Firm expertly represented their clients. They extensively researched the circumstances surrounding the crash as well as the injuries inflicted upon Betsy. That research paid off. One example of this was when Crosley Law attorneys called an expert on mechanical forces who testified (in part) that one cannot reach conclusions about injuries based on property damage. This rendered much of the defense’s line of argument invalid.

Ultimately, in the suit, Betsy G. claimed approximately $40,000 in past lost earning capacity and loss of household services. Her medical bills were nearly $50,000. Her life care planning expert estimated her future medical expenses to be more than $300,000, all relating specifically to the head injury and seizure disorder.

The defense disputed whether the future medical expenses were related to her pre-existing seizure disorder or if they were instead, as the plaintiff claimed, related to an exacerbation of her condition due to the accident. Only time would tell if the treatments would be required. However, shortly before going to trial, the case settled for a fair amount that covered all of the damages claimed, and it was a resounding victory for both of Crosley Law Firm’s clients.

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