Disc Herniation in Car Accident - $180,000 Settlement

Type of action: Motor Vehicle Collision

Injuries alleged: Cervical neck disc herniation

Tried before judge or jury (or mediation): Raymond Kenney, Esq. (mediator)

Special Damages: $76,000.00 (medicals), lien reduced to $14,500.00

Amount (specify award or settlement): $180,000

Date (of verdict or settlement): October 31, 2002

Highest Offer: $180,000.00

Most helpful experts (name, title, city)

Insurance Carrier: Withheld

Attorney for plaintiff(s) and city of office:
Kenneth I. Kolpan
Law Office of Kenneth I. Kolpan, P.C.
100 Summer Street
Boston, Ma. 02110

Attorney for defendant(s) and city of office: Withheld

Other useful information:

On January 8, 1998, plaintiff (age 45) was a right front seat passenger in a vehicle driven by her husband on Bedford Street, Abington, Ma. Defendant was exiting a medical parking lot driveway perpendicular to Bedford Street. Suddenly and without warning, the vehicle operated by the defendant pulled out in front of the vehicle occupied by the plaintiff. Defendant's vehicle struck the right front of plaintiff's vehicle.

Plaintiff was treated and released from Emergency Room. She missed seven days of work as a waitress for Friendly's Restaurant. Plaintiff’s neck pain persisted over time.

In March, 1998, a MRI confirmed a C6-7-disc level herniation and plaintiff underwent cervical neck disc surgery involving C6-7. 

In January, 2000, nearly two years following the original collision, plaintiff woke up one morning with neck pain and was diagnosed as having different cervical neck disc herniation at the C-2 level. In March 2000, plaintiff underwent a cervical neck two level fusion four discs below the original injury and surgery. Such fusion, though appropriate, can affect one’s flexibility and comfort.  However, Defendants, without admitting liability, contended that the latter disc herniation and surgery were unrelated to the motor vehicle collision involving the Defendant.  As disc herniation can be traumatic, atraumatic and/or degenerative, a jury would have to decide.  If traumatic, the jury would have to determine whether it was the collision of the Defendant’s vehicle that caused the herniation or an unrelated trauma.

If the jury determined that the latter disc herniation was either atraumatic or the result of a degenerative condition (a fairly common finding), the jury would necessarily find that the Defendant did not cause the second disc herniation and the harm to the Plaintiff was less.

Analysis of post collision, pre-surgery, post-surgery, pre-second surgery and post second surgery diagnostic studies is essential to determining the likelihood that the C-2 injury and surgery was caused by the original collision two years before symptoms became apparent.  Each diagnostic film is a snap shot in time and needs to be corroborated with the clinical course and historical facts to arrive at a conclusion as what likely caused the second disc herniation. The case became a battle of experts and the question whom the jury would believe, or if the jury would dismiss the opinion testimony of both experts.

Defendants further claimed that the plaintiff's husband was at fault for the motor vehicle collision.

Case was settled for $180,000.00, plus reduction of medical lien to $14,500.00, after a full day's mediation before Raymond Kenney, Esq.