In this case review the Plaintiffs retained a whiplash attorney to represent them in their respective personal injury cases. The two Plaintiffs alleged they suffered whiplash and other injuries while traveling in a shuttle van which stopped abruptly.
The Plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the company who operated the shuttle, asking for compensation for their damages.
John and Sara Cole were passengers in a commercial van owned and operated by the New Wood Car Service. New Wood operated a taxi service, primarily shuttling passengers to and from the airport.
In June of 2010, John and Sara were looking forward to visiting their daughter and brand new grandchild in New York. This was their first opportunity to see their new granddaughter.
John and Sara had earlier arranged for New Wood to pick them up at their home so they could catch a 3:00pm flight. The van pulled up to their home as agreed at 1:15. They loaded up their luggage and were off.
While driving to the airport, the driver of the van stopped abruptly after being cut off by another vehicle. When the van came to a stop John and Sara were thrown forward. John's neck and head were snapped back. His right knee was forced into the back of the front seat. Sara's wrist twisted as she attempted to brace herself.
After returning home a few days later, John and Sara noticed they were still suffering pain and discomfort. Their doctor ordered X-Rays and MRIs for both of them. The results indicated the ligaments in John's right knee were torn, and his neck was hyper-extended resulting in "whiplash".
Sara's wrist proved to be sprained, with her ligaments stretched. Her neck was sore, also resulting from "whiplash". Otherwise she suffered no other injuries.
John and Sara looked for personal injury lawyers in their area. They specifically were looking for a whiplash attorney. They were referred to attorney Arthur Bannion. They filed separate lawsuits against New Wood, both alleging they suffered serious bodily injuries.
New Wood hired their own attorney and filed an answer denying the allegations and a Motion for Summary Judgment against John and Sara respectively.
A Motion for Summary Judgment is normally filed by a defendant. Its purpose is to ask the Judge to dismiss the plaintiff's case because the plaintiff has failed to raise any genuine issues of fact or law to be tried in court.
In support of their Motions for Summary Judgment, New Wood alleged John and Sara's claims were not sufficient to rise to the level of actual injuries, and as such did not present any material issues of fact or law to be tried before the Court.
Their Motion for Summary Judgment asked the Court to dismiss John and Sara's lawsuit obviating the need for trial.
In support of their Motion, New Wood introduced into evidence John and Sara's respective diagnosis. By law, John and Sara were each seen by a doctor chosen by New Wood. New Wood submitted their doctor's findings through affidavit. John and Sara introduced their doctor's findings as well.
The Court took the Motion under advisement.
The Court decided John's whiplash attorney presented sufficient evidence to show his claims of injury were such that there were truly some material issues of fact for a jury to hear.
The Court therefore denied New Wood's Motion for Summary Judgment against John, and set John's case for trial.
Although Sara's whiplash attorney argued strongly on behalf of her injuries, the Court decided Sara had not presented sufficient evidence to prove her alleged injuries presented any material issues of fact, and therefore granted New Wood's Motion for Summary Judgment against Sara, and dismissed her case against New Wood.
At trial, John's whiplash attorney and the attorney for New Wood stipulated to have each of their doctor's respective diagnosis admitted by affidavit. The jury also heard testimony from John and Sara.
Sara was only permitted to testify about John's injuries. The Court had previously ruled because Sara's case was dismissed she would be precluded from testifying about her alleged injuries, and would only be permitted to testify about her husband John's.
In his direct testimony, John testified about the abrupt stop and how he was thrown into the back of the front seat of defendant New Wood's van. His testimony went on to say as a result of the abrupt stop he suffered severe pain and discomfort to his knee and neck. He said the pain and discomfort lasted for several weeks. John also testified in support of his doctor's diagnosis regarding the torn ligaments in his knee and the whiplash he suffered.
John testified about the cost of his medical bills, out of pocket expenses, and his lost wages. In support he presented evidence amounting to $6,000.
On cross-examination attorneys for New Wood asked John if he had been wearing his seat belt. They asked the same of Sara. Both indicated they had not.
New Wood's case in chief included the van driver's testimony about the abrupt stop. The van driver testified she was only driving at about 5 -10 miles per hour when she stopped. She testified she suffered no injuries whatsoever and could not understand how John could have suffered the injuries he claims he did.
After the evidence was presented and after closing arguments of John's whiplash attorney and the attorney for New Wood, the case went to the jury.
The jury, after deliberating for 3 hours returned a verdict in favor of John in the amount of $12,000.
*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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