In this case review the Plaintiff was involved in an automobile accident with a taxi cab and had hired a personal injury accident lawyer in an attempt to recover compensation for her injuries.
The defendant’s insurance company, in turn, filed a Motion for Summary Judgment alleging there was little medical evidence supporting the Plaintiff’s injuries.
Statement of Facts…
On May 13th, 2010, Delila Willis was stopped at a traffic light in her mini-van. A vehicle owned by Park Transit and driven by one of Park’s employee taxi drivers collided with the rear of Willis’s mini van.
Delila sought the advice and counsel of a personal injury accident lawyer regarding the accident and her injuries. The lawyer reviewed the facts and with Delila’s consent filed a personal injury lawsuit against Park.
In her lawsuit Delila alleged she was seriously injured as a direct result of Parks employee’s negligence.
Delila claimed she suffered from:
“… a medically determined injury or impairment of a non-permanent nature which prevented her from performing her usual and customary activities as a mother, wife, and real estate agent.”
Park’s attorney filed an answer to Delila’s lawsuit strongly denying any negligence. Park’s attorney also filed a Motion for Summary Judgment against Delila.
In its Motion, Park stated Delila’s personal injury accident lawyer wholly failed to allege material facts which were sufficient to rise to the established common law’s legal definition:
“Medically determined injury or impairment supported by credible medical evidence, which prevented a person from performing their usual duties and customary activities for at least 90 days from the time the injury was sustained.”
In the hearing on the Motion for Summary Judgment, Park presented evidence in the form of Medical Affidavits from various doctors chosen by Park to examine Delila.
In personal injury cases out of fairness to both sides, the Court normally allows the Defendant to choose a reasonable number of his own doctors to examine the Plaintiff.
Over the objections of Delila’s personal injury accident attorney, Park had the Plaintiff Delila examined by three medical doctors.
The first of Defendant’s doctors was a Neurologist. The Neurologist’s Medical Affidavit stated that upon examination she found the Plaintiff’s:
“…cervical, thoracic and lumbar sprain/strain had resolved (healed). She was able to perform all of her normal activities of daily living without restrictions.”
The second of the defendant’s medical doctors, an Orthopedist, stated in his Medical Affidavit that the Plaintiff Delila had:
“…no disability or limitations which prevented her from performing her daily activities.“
Defendant’s third medical doctor, a Radiologist, stated in her Medical Affidavit:
“After reviewing the Plaintiff’s MRI, CAT Scan, and X-Rays, all taken within 30 days of the accident and alleged injuries, I was unable to find any medical abnormalities.”
The Plaintiff’s attorney responded by submitting into evidence a Medical Affidavit from Delila’s General Practitioner Family Doctor. In the Affidavit her doctor stated:
“I found that Delila suffered from post-traumatic cervical and lumbosacral radical syndrome. I also found her to have shoulder sprain and bilateral contusions (cuts and bruises), with some motion deficits in the cervical spine, thoracoloubar spine and shoulder.”
Delila next submitted into evidence another Medical Affidavit, this time from a Neurologist. The Neurologist’s Affidavit stated the Plaintiff suffered from:
“Posttraumatic cervical and lumbosacral sprain, resolved (healed) and internal derangement sprain – outward bruising and lacerations, resolving well (healing well).”
After hearing all the evidence and arguments of Park’s and Delila’s personal injury accident lawyers, the Court concluded in its Opinion:
“The Defendant Park has met her burden in the Motion for Summary Judgment before the Court.”
The Court went on to say:
“…the Defendant has clearly met his burden in showing the Plaintiff’s allegations are absent of any credible or material facts or evidence sufficient to rise to the degree of proof necessary to carry her case to the trial level.
The Defendant’s substantial medical proof far outweighed the medical evidence offered by the Plaintiff. Therefore, the Court grants the Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment.
In so granting, the Plaintiff’s case is wholly dismissed with prejudice (meaning it can’t be re-filed) and the case shall be removed from the Court’s Trial Docket.”
- Many believe if they suffer any form of injury in an automobile collision they automatically have grounds for a lawsuit and are sure to win their case.While no one would doubt any victim’s injuries, before filing a lawsuit the victim should seriously consider whether their injuries are sufficient to carry their case all the way through to the trial stage. Their consideration should include an understanding of the difficulties inherent in the litigation process.
Those difficulties can include “Pre-Trial Discovery” litigation tactics. Some of those tactics will be lengthy depositions, detailed and often multi-page interrogatories, medical examinations by the Defendant’s hand-picked doctors, and Motions for Summary Judgment.
Motions for Summary Judgment are normally filed after all the Pre-Trial Discovery has concluded. This means you may have to endure months, and sometimes years of roadblocks, only to lose your case at a hearing on a Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment.
If you are injured in any type of accident, whether hurt in a car collision, injured on the job, hurt by a defective product, or in a slip and fall, be sure to seek the advice and counsel of a skilled personal injury accident lawyer. Before agreeing to proceed be sure to ask the attorney what the case will involve.
Ask about such things as Depositions, Interrogatories, and Motions for Summary Judgment. Be sure you have an understanding of what you will have to go through, about how long it will take, and the chances of success. With that knowledge in hand you will be able to make an informed decision whether the case is worth your time, or not.
Make sure you understand the process of the case, from start to finish. When you and your attorney make the decision to proceed in a personal injury case, ask your attorney if medical testimony will be included.
If so, ask your attorney if she has the funds to hire the medical experts necessary to prove your case. Make sure the attorney is not going to ask you to come up with the money.
When you are preparing for trial, you will have to be examined by the other side’s doctors. Your trial may come down to your experts vs. theirs.
Filing a personal injury lawsuit is not a guarantee of success. Always expect the unexpected – and be prepared for the long haul. A lawsuit is a commitment. It is a commitment which for some may be too long and too demanding of body and spirit.
*This case example is for educational purposes only. It is based on actual events although names have been changed to protect those involved. Any resemblance to real persons or entities is purely coincidental.
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