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Undiagnosed Broken Neck Leads to Further Spinal Cord Injury and Temporary Paralysis

In September 1998, Plaintiff, of Mount Laurel, New Jersey, was admitted to the emergency room at Cooper Hospital/University Medical Center in Camden, New Jersey, for neck injuries that he sustained in a car accident. At the hospital, a resident doctor ordered a CAT scan of Plaintiff’s cervical spine. The resident sent the image to the attending physician who examined the image on his home computer.  Suspecting a problem with the spine, he ordered a second series of more thinly sliced CAT scans to examine the area in more detail.

The resident however released Plaintiff from the hospital at around 11:30 p.m. that same day. The following morning, Plaintiff, experiencing severe pain and difficulty in walking, went back to the hospital.  Another doctor read the later set of CAT scans and discovered a fracture of the facet joint at C5-C6 for which Plaintiff underwent immediate surgery.

Plaintiff suffered from bleeding in the spinal canal, which put pressure on his spinal cordresulting in temporary paralysis. After the surgery to treat the paralysis, Plaintiff suffered from weakness in his arms and legs, incontinence, loss of fine motor skills and inability to dress or drive a car.

The plaintiffs sued the resident and attending physician and Cooper Hospital, claiming that the delayed diagnosis caused neurological damage to Plaintiff. The plaintiffs claimed that the fracture caused bleeding in Plaintiff’s spinal canal that exerted pressure on thespinal cord resulting in paralysis. A note on Plaintiff’s case written by the resident said, ‘negative for fracture‘. Yet nearly everyone that testified agreed that the second set of scans showed a fracture. Plaintiff’s estate sought damages for his pain and suffering, disability and impairment and loss of enjoyment of life. His wife sought damages on a loss of consortium claim.

The resident’s defense argued that the doctor e-mailed the second set of CAT scans to the attending physician, a claim that the attending physician’s attorneys denied. At trial, the attending physician produced a computer to show that he had received the first scan but not the second set of scans, and the case against him was dismissed for lack of cause of action.

The case went to trial in the Superior Court of Camden County.  The jury awarded $1.75 million to the plaintiffs from the doctor’s insurer, Lexington Insurance of Boston.

Laborer Suffers Incomplete Quadriplegia When Driver Runs Stop Sign, Airbag Fails to Deploy

A 42-year-old plaintiff, who was employed as a driver of a moving van, suffered incomplete quadriplegia, a fractured vertebra, a spinal cord injury, respiratory dysfunction, a tracheostomy, sepsis, pneumonia, a vertebra dislocation, bowel and bladder infections, osteomelitis, a decubitus ulcer and a skull hematoma when his van struck the female defendant’s vehicle broadside at a controlled intersection. The plaintiff contended that the defendant operated her vehicle in a negligent manner, failed to keep a proper lookout, failed to yield the right-of-way, specifically, failing to obey a stop sign.

The plaintiff further contended that the airbag in his vehicle, manufactured by the codefendant, failed to deploy properly and was improperly designed. The defendant female driver denied liability. The codefendant denied liability and contended that the air bag was designed properly, that the plaintiff was not wearing his seat belt and was otherwise comparatively negligent.

At trial in the Superior Court of Gloucester, the plaintiff was found to be 30 percent comparatively negligent and the defendant 70 percent negligent and the award was reduced accordingly. No liability was found against the codefendant.

Scaffolding Not Secured Properly Leads to Plaintiff’s Fall and Spinal Cord Injuries

In September 2003, Plaintiff, a 34-year-old construction worker, was hired to work at a residential construction site in Upper Freehold Township New Jersey.

Plaintiff was nailing wood while on scaffolding above the second story. The scaffolding was not properly secured, and started to shake. Plaintiff fell backwards and off of the scaffolding, landing on the ground floor.

Plaintiff sustained a comminuted L1 burst fracture with significant anterior thecal sac compression as well as edema within the conus medullaris at T12-L1, requiring L1 corpectomy. He also underwent a fusion with allograft at T12 to L2, an instrumented fusion and open treatment of the fracture.

Postoperatively, Plaintiff had difficulty urinating and defecating (neurogenic ileus) secondary to his spinal cord injury, which was managed with bowel decompression andbowel stimulants. Unpaid medical bills were approximately $200,000.  Although the plaintiff no longer works, there was no lost wage claim. He returned to Guatemala, where his wife and child live.

Plaintiff sued in Union County Superior Court, naming the general and subcontractors on the job site and claiming negligence. The plaintiff claimed that the defendants had a duty to provide safe scaffolding for him to work on. The plaintiff maintained that the scaffolding was constructed about an hour-and-a-half prior to the incident by a framer other than the plaintiff.

Although no defendant denied that plaintiff was injured at the work site, no defendant admitted to being the employer of the plaintiff and denied liability, pointing to the co-defendants as the plaintiff’s employer.

The parties settled that matter for $900,000 after two days of mediation, with insurers for the various contractors, including Travelers Insurance, Quincy Mutual, and Westport Insurance Corp. contributing for plaintiff’s injuries.

Motor Vehicle Accident Leads to Lumbar Disc Herniations

In January of 2004, Plaintiff was operating a motor vehicle on Brunswick Avenue in Trenton, New Jersey, when she was broadsided by a car driven by the defendant.

Plaintiff went to the emergency room at Mercer Medical Center, where she was X-rayed and released. Plaintiff claimed that she sustained herniations of the lumbar spine at L4-5 and L5-S1. She also complained of a chronic sprain of the talofibular ligament.

Thereafter, Plaintiff treated with her family doctor, who referred her to a chiropractor and podiatrist. When treatment did not alleviate plaintiff’s pain, she was examined by an orthopedic surgeon. The surgeon did not find Plaintiff a candidate for surgery because she was functioning well and had no significant spinal cord impingement. However, he testified that Plaintiff had sustained disc herniations as a result of the motor vehicle accident, and opined that the herniations were permanent. He predicted that the injurieswould affect Plaintiff’s quality of life interminably.

Plaintiff sued defendant for negligent operation of a motor vehicle. Plaintiff claimed that defendant ran a stop sign and hit the driver’s door of her vehicle. There was no stop sign controlling traffic in the plaintiff’s lane. Defendant denied liability and claimed that Plaintiff had not sustained any herniated discs and that her spinal condition was caused by congenital variation and degenerative disc disease.

Plaintiff testified that she experienced pain performing her daily activities. For example, she claimed that it was difficult to exercise as she had formerly done, and that she simply did not feel as young as she had before the accident. Plaintiff claimed that she no longer was able to comfortably go dancing, and that sleeping was problematic. The plaintiff gave birth to a child following the accident. She claimed that her injuries affected her ability to care for her infant.

At trial in the Mercer County Superior Court, jurors rendered a verdict in favor of the plaintiff and against the defendant’s insurance carrier, Hartford, awarding damages in the amount of $75,000.

No Recovery for Young Man Paralyzed During Surgery – Doctor Fails to Use Shunt

A 25-year-old man suffered paralysis of lower limbs and ischemia to a portion of spinalcord when he underwent cardiothoracic surgery performed by the defendant doctor to repair an aortic transaction.  Plaintiff alleged that the defendant failed to provide for blood flow during surgery. The plaintiff further contended that the defendant negligently used the clamp and sew method and that he was negligent for failing to use a shunt to continue blood supply for the duration of the surgery. The plaintiff contended that the clamp and sew method should only be used on surgery that can be completed in 30 minutes and that the defendant should have anticipated that the surgery would take about twice as long. The defendant denied liability and contended that the proper standard of care had been met.

At trial in the Ocean County Superior Court, the jury found that the defendant was not liable for Plaintiff’s injuries and Plaintiff recovered nothing.

Missed Diagnosis Causes Wife to Lose the Support and Services of Husband

In 1998, plaintiff was injured in an automobile accident.  His primary injury was to his neck, and he was treated at the hospital.  The hospital failed to diagnose that he had a fractured spine and neurological damage, and this failure to identify and treat led to internal bleeding in his spinal column.  This bleeding caused paralysis, incontinence, and the loss of motor skills.  He required additional surgery to help correct these ailments.

He and his wife sued the hospital for negligence, alleging that their failure to timely diagnose his condition led to the symptoms he would later suffer.  The defendants denied liability, and the case proceeded in Camden County Superior Court.  Eventually the plaintiffs were awarded $1 million dollars, $750,000 of which was awarded to the wife for loss of consortium and services of her husband.

Garbage Truck Strikes Newspaper Delivery Woman, Causes Brain Injury

In the predawn hours of morning in January of 1998, a 61 year old newspaper delivery woman had just finished her route and was crossing the street when she was struck by defendant’s garbage truck.  She was catastrophically injured.  The head injury was by far the most severe; she suffered a brain bleed, which left her with severe cognitive limitations and partial paralysis.  She also suffered a broken arm and foot.  A year of physical therapy and rehabilitation was required after the accident.

Suit was filed on her behalf in Mercer County Superior Court, and the parties eventually entered into settlement negotiations.  Plaintiff later accepted a $3.8 million dollar settlement, reached after the case was mediated.

No Railings, No Ropes Creates Unsafe Work Environment for Roofer Who Falls

In January of 1999, a young man in his 20′s was working as a roofing contractor; in fact he was the owner of his own roofing business.  He slipped on ice while on a roof and fell to the ground, sustaining serious and permanent injuries.  He suffered an ASIA C level spinal cord injury which required emergency surgery as well as several later surgeries and two discectomies.  He remains disabled and cannot work.

Plaintiff filed suit in Middlesex County Superior Court, naming the owners, sub and general contractors as defendants, and claiming negligence.  He argued that the failure to provide railings on the roof or other means of securing workers thereto created an unsafe work environment.  Defendants denied liability and claimed that it was plaintiff’s own negligent failure to protect himself that led to the fall.

The parties agreed to binding arbitration and the arbitrator found the defendants 70% liable for plaintiff’s fall.  He was awarded $1.4 million dollars.

Bald Tires Should Have Been Replaced, Failure to do so Renders Plaintiff a Paraplegic

In the fall of 2003, a 40 year old man was riding as a customer in the back of a Lincoln town car owned and operated by a private company.  As they approached the Holland Tunnel, the vehicle lost control in a puddle and slammed into a concrete barrier.  Evidence would later show that the tires were bald.

The results of the accident were horrific for the plaintiff.  He suffered and severe spinal cord injury and was rendered a paraplegic.

Plaintiff sued in Hudson County Superior Court, naming the limo company and the garage that was contracted to service the car.  He claimed that the bald tires caused the vehicle to hydroplane when it hit the water and resulted in the crash.  Evidence confirmed that the tires were bald, and that the garage had warned the limo company a month earlier that they needed to be replaced.  He sought damages for his lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering.  The case settled prior to trial for $3.5 million dollars, with each defendant’s insurance company contributing to the award.

Surgeon Performs Surgery Too Early? Jury Says No

In January of 2000, a woman in her fifties underwent surgery to remove stomach adhesions.  The surgery did not relieve her pain, and she was forced to undergo several additional surgeries.  These surgeries and treatments occurred over a 3 year period, and led to a bowel transplant and her total disability.  She wears a colostomy bag.

She filed suit against the doctor who performed the original surgery, alleging that he should not have operated on her for her condition and should have treated her more conservatively.  The defense denied liability and claimed that the doctor did not deviate from the standard of care.  The doctor stated that the plaintiff was aware of the risks of surgery and consented to them.  The case went to trial, and the jury agreed with the defendant.  They found no liability, and the plaintiff did not recover.

Rear Impact Causes Back Injury to Young Mother

In January of 2004, a young couple were driving in a sedan driven by the husband.  As they stopped at a traffic light, they were rear-ended, causing a spine injury to the wife and mother of two.  She suffered multiple disc herniations which were treated conservatively.  She claimed as a result she was unable to lift things without pain, including lifting her children, and had difficulty caring for them.

Plaintiff filed suit against the defendant driver in Hudson County Superior Court, alleging negligence.  The defendant denied liability, claiming that it was a minor impact accident and that it could not have caused plaintiff’s injuries.  The case arbitrated and the arbitrator awarded the plaintiff $35,000.  The defendant did not accept the award and so the case went to trial.  The jury found for the plaintiff and awarded her $250,000.

No Recovery for Plaintiffs Injured in Low-Impact Rear End Collision

In late September, 2003, and the plaintiff and his mother were in a vehicle stopped and waiting to merge into traffic.  Plaintiff was driving.  While they waited, they were rear-ended by a car driven by the defendant.  Both plaintiff and his mother suffered injuries to their spines, and were treated by chiropractors.

They filed suit in Camden County Superior Court against the defendant driver, alleging negligence.  The defendant admitted liability but denied the damages, and the case proceeded to trial on the issue of damages alone.  Plaintiff’s did not sue for lost wages or medical bills; they sued for pain and suffering.

The jury found for the defendant however, concluding that the impact could not have caused the plaintiff’s injuries, and awarded nothing.

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