My client Maribel was accelerating from a traffic light on a green left turn arrow. She had almost completed her turn when she saw another SUV careening toward her passenger side. There was nothing she could do to avoid the crash, so she braced for the inevitable impact.
Her left shoulder took the brunt of the impact. Paramedics transported her to the nearest hospital.
Her son, whom I had represented twice previously, emailed me, and told me that his mother was in a crash and was taken to the emergency room.
I pulled up the police report online. I was somewhat concerned by a notation where the other driver stated that she “did not recall leaving the house or anything else.” I feared the other driver would claim that a medical emergency caused the crash, rather than her own negligence. While there was an eyewitness who stated the other driver was at fault, I noted the police officer had not cited her.
In order to refute this possible argument, I obtained my client’s dash cam video, which very clearly showed her making a left turn on a green arrow with other traffic and getting slammed by a vehicle driving in a straight line that had disregarded its red light. The video made me comfortable that it was the other driver’s inattention and not a sudden medical event that caused the crash.
Maribel was a healthy 50-year-old woman of small stature. While she made complaints of neck and knee pain, the predominant problem seemed to be left shoulder pain. An arthrogram test, which is an x-ray taken after contrasting dye is injected into the joint, diagnosed a SLAP tear.
SLAP tears are complex tears of the labrum, which is the fibrous tissue that cushions and deepens your shoulder socket. It also is the insertion point for all the main muscles, tendons, and ligaments that make up your shoulder joint. SLAP stands for Superior Labrum Anterior and Posterior. Superior means over. Anterior means front. Posterior means rear. So, it’s a tear in your labrum in both the front and back areas, and often involves the biceps tendon.
Depending upon the degree of tearing, SLAP tears can occasionally heal with physical therapy, but often require surgery to repair the tear. Maribel went through several courses of physical therapy, but did not see any improvement, so a decision to perform surgery was made in concert with her doctor.
In Maribel’s case, she sustained a Type II tear, which required the tear to be sutured together. Fortunately, the surgery can be performed arthroscopically, so the incisions are relatively small, as are the cuts required to any muscle and connective tissue.
After a post-operative period of immobilization, therapy to restore some range of movement begins, followed by more aggressive therapy to strengthen and stretch the surgically repaired area.
Maribel’s crash was in August of 2018, but she did not have surgery until the following March. By July, she was released from medical care, and we began to assemble her many hundreds of pages of medical records and bills.
Almost exactly one year after her crash, I forwarded a demand packet to the insurance adjuster. The plan was to see whether a fair offer would be forthcoming. If not, we would file a lawsuit.
The insurance adjuster handling her case changed when the original one left the company. This delayed things a bit while the new one got up to speed. I established a good rapport with the new one. We agreed that my decision to include injuries to her knees was likely not provable, once we reviewed the medical records in greater detail and determined that many of her knee problems existed prior to the crash.
However, rather than back off my demand, I focused on the left shoulder injury and explained the value of that injury to the adjuster. Step-by-step, I used the diary my client created to explain what activities she did prior to the crash and contrasted them with activities she could not do afterwards, even after surgery and rehabilitation. (You can read my previous post about why keeping a diary after an accident is important.)
The ability to play with small grandchildren, garden, make a bed, carry a small dog were things that made her life worthwhile and enjoyable. Her inability to perform these simple tasks after the surgery was poignant. I emphasized the potential “loss of a normal life” damages. (You can read my previous blog post about damages for loss of a normal life.)
My arguments were persuasive. I received an initial offer to settle, which was at the bottom end of reasonable. At first, Maribel was not happy, but after I explained that the process would consist of demands, offers, counter-demands, and counter-offers, she understood that my evaluation was much higher than the present offer. I received her carte blanche to continue negotiating.
After a few anxious days of negotiating (during the time when the adjuster and I were both working from home due to the shelter at home directives of our respective states), I procured a final offer that was nearly four times higher than the initial offer. Even after paying all her bills, subtracting my attorney’s fees, and repaying my costs, my client will receive over $100,000 free of income-tax! Sometimes, I serve my clients well — and other times the results really are phenomenal for all concerned!
As in all cases involving injury and potential liability, if you suffer injuries in an accident, immediately get medical treatment, report the crash to police and your own insurance company, and contact a lawyer with expertise in your type of case, such as car accidents or truck crashes.
If you've been in an accident and have questions, contact Chicago personal injury attorney Stephen L. Hoffman for a free consultation at (773) 944-9737. Stephen has nearly 30 years of legal experience and has collected millions of dollars for his clients. He is listed as a SuperLawyer, has a 10.0 rating on Avvo, and is BBB A+ accredited. He is also an Executive Level Member of the Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce.
Stephen handles personal injury claims on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t pay anything upfront and he only gets paid if you do. Don’t wait another day, contact Stephen now.