Norco, Calif. — Associate Attorney, Adam Kocaj of the Law Offices of Samer Habbas & Associates secures a combined settlement of $250,000 for an Eggshell Plaintiff who was in a rear-end accident with an Underinsured Motorist.
The claimant was driving himself and five other passengers when their vehicle was struck from behind by a full-size SUV. Despite being restrained, the impact of the rear-end collision caused severe hyperextension to the claimant’s head, neck, upper torso, and back.
The claimant had a history of injuries to his knee and lower back from prior incidences. Therefore, the claimant was classified as an “Eggshell Plaintiff” at the time of the accident, susceptible to further aggravation of prior injuries. After a thorough medical examination, he was diagnosed with cervical hypolordosis (flattening of a curve in the spine) and right lumbar radiculopathy (spinal nerve root compression).
With no change in his lower back pain after chiropractic treatment and physical therapy, the claimant presented to a pain management doctor to receive an L5-S1 epidural injection. During his post-epidural examination, the claimant was recommended a second and final epidural injection. The pain management doctor informed the claimant that he also may need a right L5-S1 microdiscectomy (microdecompression surgery).
By failing to observe traffic directly in front and driving at a speed unsafe for road conditions, the defendant is liable for all damages caused by this accident. All drivers have a general duty to exercise basic road safety practices, this includes being attentive to all other surrounding vehicles occupying the roadway. The defendant’s negligence violated several statutes controlling the safe operation of a motor vehicle. When such violations harm another, they are protected by the enactment of the statutes. Our client was harmed, as such, the defendant is held legally responsible for their actions under a theory of negligence.
Associate Attorney, Adam Kocaj filed a claim against the defendant’s insurance demanding full policy limits. The defense attempted to argue the extent of the injuries sustained based on the prior injuries our client suffered before the accident. However, the “eggshell plaintiff” rule (CACI No. 3927), recognized in the state of California, protects the rights of plaintiffs with pre-existing conditions that make them more susceptible to injuries. Kocaj used this doctrine to support that our client’s prior injuries worsened due to the accident the defendant had caused, making the defendant responsible for the further aggravation of our client’s prior injuries. With no room to argue against damages and liability, defense tendered their policy limits of $50,000.
Being that our client’s recovery process will long surpass the length of this claim, the emotional, physical, and financial damages well exceed the third-party’s policy limits of $50,000. Fortunately, our client had Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage within their own auto insurance policy. Kocaj opened a UIM claim and submitted a demand to recover the remaining limit coverages. Soon after, the insurance company accepted Kocaj’s offer to release the remaining policy limits of $200,000—for a combined global settlement of $250,000.
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