Minor Impact Accident & Aggravation of Back Injuries Settles for $750,000 | Gordon McKernan & Richard Zimmerman III

Our client a 37-year-old welder, was operating his pickup truck on Burgess Avenue in Walker, Louisiana was stopped waiting to make a left turn. The defendant failed to completely stop his vehicle and rear-ended our client; however, there was no visible damage to our client’s truck. Later that evening, our client began experiencing severe back pain and pain radiating into his legs.

Our client’s MRI revealed multi-level degenerated discs with nerve compression. Over the course of the next seven months, our client received three ESIs and underwent a discogram. Shortly thereafter he underwent an L4-S1 lumbar fusion. Following his surgery our client was released to return to welding. However, after working for several months with continued back pain his treating surgeon advised that a change in profession was in his best interest.

The defendants contested our client’s claim by arguing that the impact was far too minor to have caused injury and that our client had been seen by an orthopedic for back pain just three months before the accident. The defendants furthered their argument by hiring a biomechanical engineer and conducting a videoed crash test using surrogate drivers and the same model vehicles which were involved in the sued upon accident. Plaintiffs countered by arguing that the collision aggravated a pre-existing condition and that biomechanics was incapable of quantifying the force needed to cause an increase in the frequency and severity of symptoms. Plaintiffs filed a lengthy Daubert motion to exclude the defendants’ expert which was set to be heard a several weeks before trial. A few days prior to the hearing, the case was resolved at mediation for $750,000.00.

Stephen Wright, et al v. John P. St. Germain, et al No. 129797, 21st JDC, 2/12
Plaintiff’s counsel: Richard “Richie” Zimmerman, III, and Gordon McKernan, McKernan Law Firm, Baton Rouge, LA
Plaintiff’s experts: Dr. Kelly Scrantz, Neurosurgery, Baton Rouge; Stephanie Chalfin, Vocational Rehabilitation, Baton Rouge; Randolph Rice, economics, Baton Rouge; Michael Freeman, Forensic Epidemiology, Portland, Oregon.