Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Home / Verdicts & Settlements / Insurer agreed to mediate after autopsy report revised — $175,000 settlement

Insurer agreed to mediate after autopsy report revised — $175,000 settlement

Type of action: Workers’ compensation

Verdict or settlement: Settlement

Amount: $175,000

Attorney for plaintiff (and city): Stephen Harper, Richmond


Description of case: The injured worker died in a motor vehicle accident while he was at work. While driving a truck filled with sand, he experienced a heart attack causing him to run off the road and crash into a tree. The deceased worker’s widow originally hired a different attorney to pursue a workers’ compensation claim. That firm told the widow that the case was not winnable and dropped the case based on the medical examiner’s report that stated the worker died of a heart attack prior to the crash. If that evidence was true, the worker’s case would not have been covered under Virginia’s workers’ compensation laws. A friend of the widow’s family asked plaintiff’s counsel to take a second look at the case.

Plaintiff’s counsel hired an expert pathologist to review the medical evidence. The expert opined that the injuries from the collision with the tree contributed to his death. Counsel was also able to track down the first two witnesses on the scene, who observed the worker’s condition before the paramedics arrived. One of the witnesses testified that he tried to render aid and that the worker still had a pulse at the time. The other witness had a video from his phone showing the worker still moving and breathing after the collision. After reviewing the pathologist’s report and the video, the state’s medical examiner agreed to revise her prior autopsy report to state that the impact with the tree contributed to the worker’s death. Faced with that evidence, the insurance company agreed to mediation and ultimately paid $175,000 and settled the case.

Plaintiff’s law firm provided case information.