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Multiple Surgeries Following Vehicle Wreck

F.W. was a happy, retired teacher of 26 years who was the president of her neighborhood’s home owner’s association and enjoyed volunteering at her grandson’s school. She was very active in her community, where she regularly kept in touch with and helped past students, and attended charity events regularly.

F.W. was traveling on a major highway one afternoon in an “exit only” lane preparing to leave the highway and enter the exit ramp. Without any warning, a pick-up truck, attempting to pass her, collided with the back of her vehicle and sent F.W. spinning 360 degrees across the highway until her vehicle crashed into the concrete median. Her car was totaled from the wreck, and she had to be extracted from her vehicle at the scene by emergency medical personnel.

Upon impact into the median, F.W. blacked out and did not remember anything until she awoke in an ambulance, which transported her to the closest hospital. She was admitted into the hospital’s trauma unit, and spent four days undergoing x-rays, CT scans, and other medical tests. She experienced severe pain in her head, neck, back, and sustained acute, severe bruising from her waist down to her knees. After she was stable, F.W. was discharged with referrals to see an orthopedist, a psychiatrist, and a neurologist.

Approximately ten days later, F.W. was experiencing severe neck and back pain that extended to both legs and the tops of her feet; she was also feeling pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in her feet. She was seen by an orthopedist who diagnosed her with neck, upper back, and lower back pain with associated neck and low back radiculopathy.

F.W. sought treatment from a psychiatrist for three months for anxiety, depression, and shock resulting from the wreck. She expressed that she had been experiencing flashbacks to the wreck and associated trauma, which was causing disturbances in her sleep. She also went through periods of disorientation. The psychiatrist diagnosed F.W. with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

A month after the wreck, F.W. sought treatment from a neurologist after experiencing episodes of amnesia, headaches, memory loss, confusion, black spots in her vision, coordination problems, sleep difficulty, and swelling of her thighs-particularly in the left. The doctor diagnosed her with paresthesias and recommended that an EMG and an MRI be performed on her cervical spine.

Four days later, F.W. returned to the orthopedist for the swelling in her thighs. The orthopedist diagnosed her with Morel-Lavalee syndrome with seroma and hematoma of both her thighs and recommended an incision and drainage procedure.

The next day, F.W. was evaluated and cleared for surgery regarding the swelling in her thighs. She also received an MRI that revealed multiple disc herniations in her cervical spine and severe spinal stenosis. Two weeks later, she underwent surgery to drain fluid pockets that were causing the swelling in her thighs.

While healing from surgery on her thighs, F.W. attended electrophysiological testing with the neurologist, which revealed sensorimotor polyneuropathy. She also consulted with a neurosurgeon, who diagnosed her with severe cervical stenosis and a herniated cervical disc. The doctor recommended that she undergo cervical laminectomy surgery. Meanwhile, the hematomas in her thighs remained an issue and further surgery was recommended.

About five months after the wreck. F.W. underwent a cervical laminectomy with decompression of the spinal cord.

Two months after her laminectomy surgery, F.W. underwent thigh surgery again to address her thigh hematomas. Soft tissue masses congruent with fat necrosis were removed from her thighs, and drains were placed into her thighs to allow for continuous fluid removal. A few days later, the drains were removed, but there would be permanent scarring on her thighs.

Regarding F.W.’s future, her doctors concurred that she would likely continue to experience physical, emotional, and psychological pain resulting from the wreck. These predictions were taken into account, along with all of the other obstacles and suffering that she had already triumphed through.

We settled F.W.’s case at mediation prior to filing suit for $699,000. F.W. used the money to address the scarring on her thighs, resolve all of her medical expenses, plan for future medical costs, and improve her quality of life by getting involved in other rewarding and fulfilling activities in her community.