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Severe Spine Injuries Due To Automobile Collision

One Thursday afternoon, A.F., a physical therapist and part-time office assistant to her father, was taking her friend to her home in Pine Lake, GA when her truck collided with a white HVAC van. A.F. was headed westbound on a neighborhood road when the van attempted to turn left, directly into A.F. and her friend. A.F.’s vehicle struck the passenger side of the HVAC van, causing significant damages to both vehicles. Police were immediately called to the scene of the collision, and the at-fault driver of the HVAC van was cited for Failure to Yield. The at-fault driver admitted that he tried to speed up to pass A.F.’s vehicle but slid due to the rainy weather conditions.

A.F.’s truck was totaled. Although she and her friend had complained of severe back pain, A.F. decided to first call emergency services for her friend, who was sick from cancer. She did not go to the emergency room as she was primary concerned about her friend’s health. Several days later, when the pain in her back did not subside, A.F. sought treatment at the Emergency Room.

A.F. complained of back pain radiating down into her left leg, as well as shoulder pain. The ER physician placed her shoulder in a sling and prescribed pain medication. A.F. was advised to follow up with a joint specialist for continued treatment. At the joint specialist’s office, A.F. was removed from work and prescribed physical therapy to strengthen her shoulder. The joint specialist referred her to a physical therapist and an orthopedist for an MRI of her back. A.F. retained Kaufman Law several weeks after the collision to help her obtain compensation for the extensive damages.

One month following the collision, A.F. received her lumbar MRI results–she was diagnosed with a broad-based disc protrusion, an annular tear at L4-5, and nerve root impingement at L5. The orthopedist recommended steroid injections and ordered more physical therapy. Following several physical therapy sessions, she returned to the joint specialist for a shoulder MRI. She was diagnosed with a left shoulder superior labrum anterior to posterior tear. One month later, the joint specialist performed a left shoulder subacrominal decompression and bursectomy and debridement.

A.F. still complained of pain in her lumbar, left hip, buttock, and legs following her shoulder surgery. Her orthopedist referred her to an orthopaedic surgeon for back surgery. Three months after her collision, A.F. received a lumbar discogram to diagnose her lumbar pain. After the diskogram, the orthopaedic surgeon recommended an anterior lumbar interbody fusion at L5-S1 with an installation of PEEK cages and anterior plating.

Following this spinal surgery, A.F. reported severe back pain, coughing spells and a popping sensation. X-rays of her lumbar spine showed that the S1 screws in her spine had broken. After two more MRIs, A.F. underwent a left L5-S1 foraminotomy and posterior pedicle screw fixation. The procedure did not improve A.F’s pain, and she was devastated to find that she would need a fourth surgery–a revision fusion at L5-S1 and a fusion of L4-5. The orthopaedic surgeon stated that the surgery was more difficult than expected, as it took an extra hour just to access A.F.’s anterior spine due to scarring. Although A.F. has improved since this last surgery, the orthopaedic surgeon believes that she will suffer from chronic pain as a result of her injuries. A.F. was unable to perform activities that required physical movement, such as yoga, camping, swimming, or even playing with her dog. When asked how her current physical condition compared to her condition prior to the collision, A.F. said that “her active life was over.” She could not be able to work or live as she did beforehand.

Kaufman Law worked diligently during A.F.’s case to receive the maximum settlement for her injuries. As A.F. suffered extensive injuries following the crash, the Kaufman Law team believed that A.F.’s damages highly exceeded the at-fault driver’s coverage. Kaufman Law took A.F.’s case to trial in order to attain proper compensation for their client. A.F., at-fault driver, and several physicians received depositions in order to determine specific details of the incident. A collision specialist was hired to reconstruct the scene. The case eventually settled for $1,974,135.50, and the insurance company was required to pay all fees incurred as a result of the crash. With this settlement, A.F. was able to pay for her continued medical treatment and hired a nurse to assist her with daily activities.