On Nov. 12, 2012, the 37-year-old plaintiff was driving his 2009 Ford Taurus north on 1-81 in Botetourt County when he was struck in the rear by a tractor-trailer driven an employee of Navajo Express. The defendants admitted that they were at fault for the wreck prior to trial. The plaintiff’s vehicle sustained moderate property damage.
The plaintiff stated he was fine at the accident scene, declined medical treatment, continued on a business trip the evening of the wreck, and then the next day when his back hurt he drove five hours back home to Charlotte, North Carolina, without seeking any medical care in Virginia. He first sought medical at an urgent care facility and then went to see a law firm, who referred him to a chiropractor. The plaintiff missed no time from work and took his family on several vacations. After this accident, he hurt himself getting into a pontoon boat while lifting cans of gasoline, injuring his shoulder.
Plaintiff was seen by nine doctors, none of whom was able to fully cure his back pain. Doctors conducted five diagnostic studies, epidural steroid injections, 13 trigger point injections, facet joint injections, five acupuncture treatments, 53 physical therapy visits and prescribed over 20 medications. The plaintiff had a consistent work history and was the father of four young children.
The plaintiff claimed he was going to need additional medication, use of a TENS unit and periodic injections over the balance of his life. He was 40 years old at the time of his injury and claimed approximately $150,000 in future medical care. The defense challenged the need for this care.
The defendant made a one-time only offer of $80,000 five days before trial and refused to negotiate. All the plaintiff’s medical bills were paid by workers’ compensation. Prior to the wreck, plaintiff had no history of back problems and afterwards he was rated with a 7 percent AMA permanency rating for his thoracic spine and a 2 percent rating for pain. The defense called no witnesses and relied on cross-exam of the plaintiff’s doctors who testified by deposition.[15-T-167]
Type of action: Personal injury – auto accident
Injuries alleged: Cervical sprain and strain, thoracic sprain and strain, myofasciitis, thoracic disk protrusion, chronic mid thoracic axial pain
Name of case: Switzer v. Navajo Express, Inc.
Court: Botetourt County Circuit Court
Case no.: CL14-369
Judge: Malfourd W. Trumbo
Verdict or settlement: Verdict
Special damages: Medical bills – $27,109.60; lost wages – none
Attorneys for plaintiff: John C. Shea and Bradley D. Kent, Richmond
Insurance carrier: Zurich American Insurance Company