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$700,000 Settlement for Motorist Injured in Rear-End Collision

On May 17, 2011, plaintiff, a 36 years old male, was traveling westbound on Interstate 78 in Newark, New Jersey.  Defendant was traveling behind plaintiff and collided into the rear corner of plaintiff’s vehicle which was slowing down because of traffic ahead.  The impact from defendant’s vehicle pushed plaintiff’s vehicle forward into the vehicle in front of him.  Plaintiff did not go immediately to the hospital until the next day with complaints of headache, neck pain and lower back pain.

Plaintiff’s counsel William S. Peck, Esq. of the Clark Law Firm, PC in Belmar, N.J., alleged that as a result of this incident, Plaintiff sustained injuries to his neck and lower back.  Chiropractic treatment followed, however, plaintiff felt no relief.  Plaintiff also began to suffer thoracic back pain.  Testing demonstrated focal posterior disc herniations at L4-L5, right L4/L5 radiculopathy, right shoulder stiffness, cervical segmental dysfunction, thoracic segmental dysfunction, lumbar segmental dysfunction and sacrum segmental dysfunction.  Epidural injections by a pain specialist similarly provided no relief and resulted in increased headaches.  Plaintiff then underwent a lumbar fusion and physical therapy which provided some relief.  At the time of the incident plaintiff was a construction worker.  He limited his activity after the collision and was out of work for eight (8) months.  Plaintiff was limited in physical activity and could no longer ride his motorcycle as a result of his injuries.

The post collision MRI showed a herniated disc at L4-L5 and a bulging disc at L5-S1.  Defendant alleged that plaintiff’s prior medical records indicated that plaintiff’s back and neck complaints pre-dated the motor vehicle collision with defendant.  Defendant’s medical expert opined that MRI reports from 2008 revealed plaintiff’s disc bulge and herniation were present before the subject incident and unrelated to the trauma sustained in the collision.  Defendant’s medical expert further opined that the surgery was related to the pre-existing disorders or pre-existing degenerative disease.

The case against the defendant driver settled for $99,500.  The case then continued against the intervening UIM insurance company and was scheduled for trial on October 13, 2015.  The parties agreed to mediation with retired Judge Mark Epstein.  At mediation the UIM claim settled for $600,500, bringing the final total amount of settlement to $700,000.

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