$1,750,000 Settlement for a 46-year-old Woman Who Sustained Spinal Injuries After Queens Car Accident

Our client was riding as a front passenger in a car that was making a left turn from Metropolitan Avenue onto Forest Avenue in Queens, when the car she was riding in was rear-ended by a vehicle attempting to make the same left turn. As a result of this accident, our client suffered spinal injuries that required surgery to treat. Handled by Partner Stephen Murphy and Senior Counsel Michael Hurwitz, this case settled for $1,750,000.

Court and County
Supreme Court, Kings County

Description of Case
Plaintiff was 46 years old on the date of the accident and was not employed when the subject accident occurred.

This matter stems from a motor vehicle accident that occurred in Queens, New York, at the intersection of Metropolitan Avenue and Forest Avenue. At the time of the accident, Plaintiff was a restrained front seat passenger in a vehicle that was attempting to make a left turn from Metropolitan Avenue onto Forest Avenue. While making the turn, the vehicle that the Plaintiff was riding in was struck in the rear by the Defendant's van, which was attempting to negotiate the same left turn.

Description of Injuries/Damages
Immediately after the impact, Plaintiff started experiencing pain in her neck and lower back. Later that same day Plaintiff presented to the ER at Wyckoff Hospital, where she made complaints of progressive neck pain and lower back pain. After discharge from the hospital, Plaintiff presented to physicians, where she was started on a course of physical therapy, chiropractic treatment, and acupuncture three times a week. When conservative treatment and pain management failed to provide any improvement, Plaintiff was referred for and underwent an MRI of the cervical spine, which revealed pathology at the C4-C5 segment.

Plaintiff also underwent an EMG study of the upper extremities, which revealed evidence of radiculopathy. After five months, when extensive conservative treatment-including multiple injections-failed, Plaintiff underwent a cervical fusion surgery at the C4-C5 level.

The Plaintiff alleged approximately $75,000 in past medical bills.

Defendant's expert biomechanic opined that the loads and mechanisms required to compromise Plaintiff's spine were not present during the subject impact and therefore this accident did not cause the claimed injuries.

Defendant's expert radiologist claimed that all diagnostic studies illustrated pre-existing and long-standing degenerative conditions and that there were no acute traumatic conditions found on any of the post-accident radiology studies.

Further, Defendant's orthopedic surgeon opined that Plaintiff sustained mild sprains to her cervical and lumbar spine as a consequence of the accident, which resolved within weeks to months of the accident. Much of the treatment, including the cervical spine surgery, was not medically indicated, and Plaintiff had no evidence of a disability, didn't need additional treatment, and was capable of working without restrictions.

Finally, Defendant's neurological surgeon opined that the conditions of the cervical and lumbar spine were preexisting degenerative conditions not caused by the accident, that there was no evidence of a disability, and that Plaintiff was capable of working without restrictions.

Settlement Amount
Defendants maintained $1,000,000 primary coverage with one insurance company, and $15,000,000 excess coverage with another. The settlement resulted in the tendering of the full primary insurance policy of $1,000,000 and $750,000 of the excess policy for a total settlement of $1,750,000.

Handling Attorneys
This matter was handled by Senior Counsel Michael J. Hurwitz and Partner Stephen J. Murphy.