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Concussion/Motor Vehicle Collision - $200,000 Settlement

Type of action: Personal Injury/Motor vehicle collision
Injuries alleged: Concussion
Name of Case: Withheld
Court/Case No: Suit not filed
Special Damages: $9,725.00
Amount (specify award or settlement): $200,000.00
Date (of verdict or settlement):April 26, 2000
Demand (required if defense verdict):
Insurance Carrier: Withheld
Attorney for plaintiff(s) and city of office: Kenneth Kolpan
Attorney for defendant(s) and city of office: N/A

Person who can verify report, including telephone and fax numbers (not for publication):
Kenneth I. Kolpan, Boston, Ma. 617.426.2558

Other useful information:

On October 8, 1997, the plaintiff, a 48-year-old female, was rear ended by the defendant's truck. Immediately prior to the collision, the plaintiff's vehicle was moving approximately ten (10) miles per. The plaintiff's vehicle then struck another vehicle in front of hers. There was no evidence that the plaintiff’s head struck any part of the vehicle’s interior including the A frame, dashboard, windshield or steering wheel.  Though the slow speed impact raised questions about the extent of the Plaintiff’s brain injury, counsel emphasized that early scientific research has demonstrated that a brain injury can be caused without the head striking any object due to acceleration, deceleration and rotational forces.

To persuade the adjuster, Attorney Kolpan demonstrated, using an anatomically accurate skull and brain, how the gelatin like brain and skull travel at different speeds as do the grey and white matter causing the brain to smack against the sharp ridges of the skull and the axons to shear.  Plaintiff sustained a concussion when her neck snapped forward upon the first impact, backward on the second impact.  As a Boston brain injury lawyer, Attorney Kolpan set out to prove that the two impacts likelihood caused the Plaintiff’s brain to jostle, rotate and strike the inner sharp edges of her skull causing a diffuse axonal injury.  Though unseen in MRI’s, CT scans, diffuse axonal injury has been well studied starting the 1940’s research of Dr. Denny Brown who did microscopic studies of brain tissue of those with a medical history of concussion.

Plaintiff was involved in two other motor vehicle collisions shortly after the subject accident. The insurance company claimed that the plaintiff's current symptoms were causally related to the other motor vehicle accidents and/or her plaintiff's preexisting depression (for which she had received treatment).  Despite having subsequent motor vehicle collisions, counsel made the adjuster aware of medical research demonstrating that even if there were subsequent collisions, the defendant’s collision placed the plaintiff at greater risk for substantial further injury.  Learning from sports concussion return to play guidelines, the plaintiff was at risk for a future concussion and worsening deficits if she was subject to future collisions during her recovery period from her concussion (brain injury.  Subsequent concussions can cause exponential damage resulting in serious and sometimes permanent cognitive problems.

Insurance company contended that the plaintiff had returned to her premorbid condition citing her return to work as a social worker.  Rather than filing suit, Attorney Kolpan, submitted a settlement demand to the insurance company, which requested an in-person meeting at his office.  Attorney Kolpan and the adjuster engaged in a few hours of face to face negotiations.  At the conclusion of the negotiations, the matter was settled for $200,000.00