Shareholder Heather Webb and Associate Kevin Conner received a combined verdict of $1,406,178, entered by the Honorable Andrea Darvas following a nine day King County Superior Court bench trial that ended on November 19, 2015.
The case arose from a May 24, 2012 automobile collision in Burlington, Washington, when a Safelite commercial van rear ended the plaintiffs’ car. One of the main arguments of the defense was that the rear impact was not forceful enough to cause injuries since the cost to repair the plaintiffs’ car was $954.04. Evidence presented in the case showed that plaintiffs’ did complain of neck and back injuries to the investigating police officer. In addition, ample medical evidence was presented that the collision did cause injury to both plaintiffs.
One of the plaintiff’s neck and back pain and disability progressed to the point that he required several surgeries (a cervical anterior cervical discectomy and fusion; cervical foraminotomies, two lumbar laminectomies and a lumbar fusion). The other plaintiff’s neck pain also progressed and she required surgery as well (a cervical discectomy). Despite medical evidence to document injury from the collision, the defense strongly argued that both plaintiffs had prior medical conditions, and those prior conditions were the cause of many of the post-collision complaints of pain. Plaintiffs’ medical doctors testified that any prior medical issues made each plaintiff more susceptible to injury from the collision. The court, in its ruling, stated that “the law recognizes that some individuals may be more vulnerable than others, and that a plaintiff that is particularly vulnerable is nevertheless entitled to recover for damages proximately caused by a negligent defendant.”
Both plaintiffs testified at trial, along with numerous lay and medical witnesses, regarding the significant impact the injuries and surgeries had on their home, families, recreational activities, work and enjoyment of life. Medical evidence was also presented at trial to show that each plaintiff had sustained permanent impairment as a result of their injuries and surgeries.
Prior to trial, the most that defense had offered was $95,000. The verdicts were not appealed.