It may sound counterintuitive to some that a minor auto accident can lead to major injuries, but it’s true. Lipkin & Apter has worked with personal injury clients that required therapy, surgery or long-term recovery following a minor accident. In this particular personal injury case, a bus driver was awarded a large settlement following a minor bus accident in Chicago, IL.
G.K. was a 28 year-old CTA bus driver referred to Lipkin & Apter by another Chicago law firm. G.K. claimed he sustained a serious right shoulder injury in a minor automobile-bus collision in 2007.
At the time of the incident, G.K. was seated in a disabled and empty bus, waiting for a mechanic, when the bus was sideswiped on the driver’s side by an 89 year-old woman.
At the scene of the bus accident, G.K. complained of shoulder pain to the Chicago Police Department and a CTA supervisor. When he got home, he told his wife about his shoulder pain. The next day, he visited a local emergency room, and a day or two later the CTA’s doctor, and an orthopedic surgeon.
He was diagnosed with a torn labrum, tissue that protects the socket of the shoulder, and ultimately underwent arthroscopic surgery and physical therapy. G.K. missed six and a half months of work as a result and was left with permanent pain in his dominant should when lifting his arm above shoulder level.
The defendant admitted responsibility for the auto accident, but her insurance company rejected the idea that G.K.’s shoulder injury resulted from this minor impact collision. The insurance company hired an expert witness, an orthopedic surgeon, who testified at trial that his shoulder injury was due to arthritis, a diagnosis existing prior to the crash, and not the bus crash itself.
G.K.’s surgeon testified that the accident aggravated his pre-existing arthritic condition, making it symptomatic and needing surgery. The defendant offered $80,000 to settle the case before trial, which Lipkin & Apter believed was insufficient, as did G.K. After a three-day trial, the jury agreed with us awarding G.K. $395,857.75.
The car accident attorneys at Lipkin & Apter believed the facts were on our side, believed we had prepared a winning case, and believed the case had significant upside potential to warrant trial rather than settlement. Ultimately, the decision to proceed to trial was G.K.’s, which he made after lengthy discussions with us.
As illustrated in this personal injury case, it is important and beneficial for the client to be involved with the litigation process, to know the strengths and weaknesses of their case. We were frank in telling G.K. that the potential weakness, which had to be overcome, was the claim that a minor impact could cause a major injury.
We were able to overcome this weakness by carefully eliciting from G.K. the outstretched position of his arm at moment of impact, and gaining his surgeon’s opinion that even a minor collision with his arm in a vulnerable position could lead to a torn labrum, and require surgery. A jury trial is a contest of competing stories. Through careful planning, the car accident attorneys at Lipkin & Apter were able to sell G.K.’s story to the jury.