As a lawyer who has been handling car accident claims in Chicago and throughout Illinois for more than 25 years, I’ve seen my fair share of car accident cases. Some of the cases I have handled have settled without a lawsuit, some after a lawsuit has been filed and some needed to be jury tried. From a lawyer’s perspective, property damage is important. Of course, we’d like to be able to show the people who evaluate these cases, (mainly insurance companies, defense lawyers, judges and juries), alarming damages done to the vehicles involved after a car accident. When people look at these photos, they can’t help but think, “I bet the occupants of those vehicles were really hurt.”
Then, there are more challenging car accident cases, situations where there was a car accident with minimal property damage, but significant injuries. The insurance companies argue, “How can someone have been injured in that accident with just some damage to the bumpers?” We argue that it’s the occupants of the vehicle who absorbed the impact, not the vehicle itself. We point to the way cars are manufactured nowadays and that every person is different, i.e., some walk away from a horrible wreck uninjured, and some are in a minor fender bender and are horribly injured.
Minimal Damage To Vehicle = Minimal Injuries?
We had a case that recently in which we obtained a significant six-figure settlement for our client who was seriously injured, but the damage to his vehicle was minimal. He was rear-ended while at a complete stop. Since he had no idea that he was going to be rear ended, he was unable to brace himself prior to impact. The defendant was driving a 2009 Ford E350. We pointed out to the defense that the weight of their client’s vehicle was between 5,415 to 6,397 pounds, without cargo. While our client’s car showed minimal damage, the defendant’s car showed a bit more.
Our client suffered a cervical strain with right upper paresthesia and lumbar disc herniations at two different levels. While our client did not have surgery, he underwent extensive physical therapy and injections to address those injuries. Additionally, according to his doctors, he has residual pain that he will need to live with.
Prior to the accident, our client had no complaints of injuries or pain. He was an active 38-year-old who trained at the gym multiple times per week prior to the occurrence. Since the accident, he has had neck pain, right arm pain (including pain, weakness, and tingling), lower back pain, and tingling in his toes. Our client was an electrician but was forced to change careers because of the pain associated with the injuries suffered from the occurrence.
Our client incurred approximately $45,000 in medical bills and nearly $47,000 in readily quantifiable wage loss. We were able to secure him a significant six-figure settlement, even though his vehicle did not show much damage. It took litigation and many depositions, but eventually the responsible insurance company wrote us a check and our client received a full and fair outcome.