I was representing a client in two worker’s compensation claims against the same employer, one involving her right shoulder and the other involving her low back. The employer-insurer provided treatment and it was determined that no surgery was necessary and the client was released to return to work at full duty at her regular job.
On her first morning back to work after being released by the worker’s compensation doctor, while attempting to make a left turn into the plant where she was employed, she was struck from the rear by another vehicle, and she alleged that she re-injured her low back. Since she was not yet on the job, worker’s compensation would not cover her injury, and therefore, she looked to the driver of the vehicle that struck her from behind for compensation for her injuries. My client received a letter from the claims adjuster for State Farm Insurance Company, which insured the vehicle that struck her, which stated as follows: “Based on the documentation you have provided, we have extended an offer of settlement of $750.00.” Attached to the offer was a copy of a photograph of the rear of plaintiff’s vehicle taken by State Farm which basically showed no damage at all to my client’s vehicle. State Farm took the position that this was a low speed, low impact collision with little or no damage to the client’s vehicle. The letter also pointed out that since the client had just been released from treatment for her low back injury, it was State Farm’s position that no new injury had occurred.
I agreed to represent my worker’s compensation client in her claim against the other driver and immediately filed a lawsuit in the Circuit Court of St. Louis County, where the accident occurred. I alleged in my lawsuit that the MRI of my client’s low back taken before the accident showed a bulging disc at the L4-5 level from the work-related injury and an MRI of my client’s low back taken after the accident showed that the low speed, low impact collision caused the bulging disc to progress into a herniated disc. The insurance company’s expert witness orthopedic surgeon opined that the MRI performed before the accident and the MRI performed after the accident were exactly the same and showed no new injury and that the rear-end collision caused my client to sustain only a minor strain, which should have cleared up within about six weeks. All of the doctors agreed that the plaintiff was not a candidate for low back surgery because the disc was not causing any impingement on a nerve root.
After depositions of the doctors were taken and as the trial date was approaching, the case, which originated with a $750.00 offer from State Farm, was ultimately settled for my client for the amount of $50,000.00, which was the policy limits of State Farm’s insured driver. In addition, I obtained additional settlements in my client’s two worker’s compensation claims totaling $28,626.00, for a total recovery in all of her claims in the amount of $78,626.00.
If you have been injured in a workers compensation or other accident and would like to speak with an experienced attorney, please call Thomas Gregory at Mogab & Hughes Attorneys at 314-241-4477.