$1.6 Million Settlement for a Client Who Suffered a Neck Injury After She Was Hit While Driving a Rental Car

Court and County
Supreme Court, Suffolk County

Age and Occupation of Plaintiff
Plaintiff was a 31-year-old nurse at the time of the accident.

Description of Case
This accident happened on a warm spring day in 2018 in the town of Islip, in Suffolk County, New York. Plaintiff was driving a rented BMW with her three children in the back seat; they were heading home from the beach. Plaintiff was driving straight along 5th Avenue, a one-way road. Suddenly, a car driven by the Defendant pulled out of a parking lot, striking the driver's side of Plaintiff's vehicle. There was no traffic light, stop sign, or other traffic control device at the exit of this parking lot. Police responded and a report was made.

The Defendant claimed to have looked before she pulled out of the lot, but did not see the Plaintiff's vehicle prior to the impact. If the case had proceeded further, we were prepared to make a motion for summary judgment on the issue of liability against the Defendant to hold her 100 percent responsible for the collision, since she failed to properly yield the right of way to Plaintiff's car.

Injuries and Damages
Plaintiff was shaken up at the scene, but not in immediate pain. She did not seek any treatment and was able to drive back home. The next morning, however, she awoke with a great deal of neck and lower back pain. Five days after the accident, when the pain did not subside, she began a course of treatment that included physical therapy and pain management.

After several weeks, MRI studies revealed, among other things, a herniated disc at the C5/C6 level of her cervical spine. Months of physical therapy did not help alleviate her ongoing neck pain, which had become severe and radiating in nature. She consulted with a spine surgeon, who recommended neck surgery, but she then returned to physical therapy for several more months in an attempt to avoid the surgery. Months later, the pain unrelenting, Plaintiff sought out a second opinion with a doctor who agreed the spine surgery was warranted. Plaintiff ultimately underwent a neck surgery, consisting of an anterior cervical discectomy with fusion at C5/C6. After a brief period of post-operative physical therapy, she made a fairly good recovery.

Plaintiff was a working nurse who was also pursuing her RN at the time of this crash. She was able to continue with school and work post-accident, only missing a short time following her neck surgery. Plaintiff obtained her RN while this case was pending. At the time of settlement, the case was not yet on the trial calendar. Plaintiff was working as a nurse at a senior living facility in Suffolk County, and caring for her three children. She continued to experience periodic neck pain, but had ceased medical treatment.

We alleged that Plaintiff would require regular medical treatment in the future and that she may have a shorter work life expectancy because of how her neck injury is expected to progress as she ages. The defense argued, through their medical experts, that Plaintiff's neck condition was degenerative in nature, and that it was not caused by this accident, which the defense claimed involved too light of an impact to cause such damage. The defense experts also contended that Plaintiff would be capable of a full work life with no restrictions or disabilities whatsoever.

Settlement
Following a private mediation, this case settled for $1,600,000.

Handling Attorneys
The case was handled by firm partners Stephen J. Murphy and David L. Scher.