Type of action: Auto accident
Injuries alleged: Cervical strain, lumbar strain and tear of the superior labrum with associated paralabral cyst
Court: Fairfax Circuit Court
Date resolved: 7/8/2022
Special damages: Past medicals totaling $56,087.88; lost wages totaling $1,514.52; future medicals totaling $2,250 (disputed by carrier)
Verdict or settlement: Settlement
Attorney for plaintiff (and city): Christopher G. Findlater, Reston
Description of case: The defendant was the last driver involved in a three-car rear end collision in McLean. The plaintiff, a corporate officer, was the driver of the first car and was stopped, due to traffic ahead, at the time of the collision. The defendant was cited for following too closely. The defendant prepaid the ticket. During litigation, the defendant initially pled and denied liability but later admitted liability in written discovery.
The impact demolished the rear of the plaintiff’s vehicle. Immediately after the collision, the plaintiff felt pain along the left side of her neck, shoulder, arm, abdomen and lower back. Symptoms worsened, and the next day, the plaintiff presented to a hospital. The emergency room doctor diagnosed plaintiff with a neck strain and left side back pain. No diagnostic imaging was performed at the emergency room.
She later saw a physical therapist, who initially documented plaintiff’s shoulder pain as neck pain radiating into her left arm and shoulder. The physical therapist made an assessment that the plaintiff was suffering from an acute cervical strain with radiculopathy. The physical therapist treated the plaintiff based on that assessment for approximately five months, which ended in plaintiff still complaining of pain in her shoulder despite her neck pain having largely resolved.
More than seven months later, the plaintiff visited with a nurse practitioner and a sports medicine doctor. The plaintiff’s treating sports medicine doctor ordered an MRI, which revealed mild tendinopathy of the supraspinatus tendon and a tear of the superior labrum in her left shoulder. The sports medicine doctor also noted an associated paralabral cyst that extended laterally along the rotator interval. The doctor ordered physical therapy, with a focus on dry needling, but the plaintiff had to stop physical therapy due to pregnancy.
Approximately seven and a half months later, she returned to her sports medicine doctor, who performed a couple of injections and aspiration of the paralabral cyst under ultrasound guidance resulting in little relief. The plaintiff consulted with a treating orthopedic surgeon, who eventually performed superior labrum anterior and posterior, or SLAP, tear repair surgery for a type II SLAP tear. The plaintiff then underwent several months of post-surgery physical therapy for recovery. Dr. John A. Bruno, Jr. performed a medical examination of the plaintiff and opined that the plaintiff had sustained 11% permanent physical impairment of the upper extremity and would need two visits with her orthopedist per year for the next three years.
Defendant’s liability carrier, USAA, tendered its policy limits of $100,000 before plaintiff’s deposition. After plaintiff’s deposition and plaintiff’s designation of experts, the plaintiff’s underinsured motorist carrier, Progressive, offered $65,000 to settle the case. During negotiations, plaintiff’s UIM carrier argued gaps in treatment and expressed doubt about pain associated with current condition and need for future medical visits before providing their final offer.
Christopher Findlater, plaintiff’s counsel, provided case information.[022-T-133]