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Delivery driver injured in crash, missed 33 weeks of work — $240,829.63 verdict

Virginia Lawyers Weekly//July 25, 2022

Delivery driver injured in crash, missed 33 weeks of work — $240,829.63 verdict

Virginia Lawyers Weekly//July 25, 2022

Type of action: Personal injury

Injuries alleged: Lumbar strain, aggravation of pre-existing condition

Name of case: Diggs v. Yocum

Court: Loudoun County Circuit Court

Case no.: CL00113431-00

Tried before: Jury

Name of judge or mediator: Judge Douglas Fleming Jr.

Date resolved: 4/12/2022

Special damages: $19,667.92 in past medical expenses; $47,967.36 in lost wages

Verdict or settlement: Verdict

Amount: $240,829.63

Attorney for plaintiff (and city): Christopher J. Toepp, Richmond

Description of case: On Oct. 13, 2016, the plaintiff was rear-ended while driving a UPS truck. Liability was admitted. As a result of the collision, he injured his lower back. He was transported from the scene by ambulance, examined in the emergency room, and followed up with his primary care physician the following day. Thereafter, he was referred to an orthopedist and completed a 23-session course of physical therapy. Although his condition greatly improved, he remained out of work for 33 weeks because his job as a UPS driver requires significant lifting, bending and twisting. Although he ultimately received clearance to resume work, he continued to complain of intermittent lower back pain through the date of trial. His treating orthopedist testified that he sustained an acute lumbar sprain and aggravated his underlying condition in the subject accident.

The case was complicated by the fact that the plaintiff had a prior motor vehicle collision in 2014 and sustained a well-documented disc herniation in his lumbar spine. Although he did return to a very physically demanding job six months after the 2014 collision, his previous traumatic injury and associated complaints of lumbar pain were well-documented in his past medical records. Additionally, the plaintiff was involved in another collision in 2019 where he reported another, albeit temporary, elevation in his lumbar pain.

The jury deliberated for an hour before returning with two questions: how much of the plaintiff’s wage loss was paid by worker’s compensation and how many of the plaintiff’s medical bills were paid by health insurance. The collateral source instruction was given to the jury and they returned 15 minutes later with their verdict.

Christopher J. Toepp, plaintiff’s counsel, provided case information.


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