A Portland, Oregon, driver recently contacted Dwyer Williams Potter LLP for legal representation following a rear-end collision in which he sustained physical injuries that prevented him from being able to engage in productive work. This man was a contractor by trade whose wrists were severely injured when he was struck from behind by another motorist while driving in downtown Portland. At the moment of impact, our client braced himself against his steering wheel with wrists flexed. This instinctive protective motion resulted in him jamming his wrists with so much force that he needed bilateral carpal tunnel surgery to correct his injuries.
Our client is a professional contractor who works with his hands for a living. The injuries that he sustained in this rear-end collision were among the worst imaginable for someone in his profession. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that affects the median nerve in the wrist, which supplies feeling and movement to the hand’s various parts. For a contractor, carpal tunnel syndrome can limit the types of jobs that one can take on as well as one’s pace of work and overall productivity. Severe carpal tunnel syndrome, which is the condition that our client had as a direct result of this car accident, can render contracting work impossible because nerve damage is so extensive that some parts of the hand are immobile and others completely lack feeling. In our client’s case, surgery was absolutely necessary in order for him to guarantee the future use of his hands.
Not surprisingly given the nature of his profession, his injuries, and the invasive surgery required to treat those injuries, our client was not able to work for an extended period of time following the collision. Prior to approaching Dwyer Williams Potter LLP for expert car accident injury representation, our client’s insurance provider performed a review of the available medical records and determined that his carpal tunnel syndrome could not have been caused by the accident. Based on this finding, the insurer refused to pay for our client’s medical treatment and for any lost income due to the injuries and surgery. At this point, our client attempted to settle his liability claim with the at-fault driver, but he was only offered $1,500. His unpaid medical expenses (consultations, treatment, and surgery) alone amounted to more than $15,000. It was clear that he couldn’t accept such a small settlement, but he was not sure where to turn or what to do. At this critical time, our client’s surgeon recognized that his patient needed the help of a professional car accident injury lawyer and directed him toward our law firm.
Once hired by our client, we immediately entered into negotiations with our client’s Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and liability carriers. The liability carrier, emboldened by the PIP insurer’s refusal to pay for medical expenses, offered only a slightly higher settlement offer than the $1,500 our client was initially offered. We initially lacked medical verification to prove that our client’s injuries were caused by the accident: causality was not written up in any of our client’s post-accident medical records. After several conversations with our client’s surgeon, however, the doctor agreed to document how our client’s injuries were related to the collision. When the liability carrier again offered to make a reasonable settlement offer to our client, we filed a lawsuit for medical costs and lost wages.
The liability carrier began to appreciate the strength of our case when presented with the legal filings including the physician report. Wage loss was difficult to prove given our client’s self-employed status and the inconsistencies in income reflected on tax returns from one year to the next, but after several rounds of negotiations, the insurance provider offered $40,000 to settle the case. Our client happily accepted this offer, which reimbursed him for his time loss and pain and suffering. This offer also maintained our client’s right to pursue his PIP insurer for the unpaid medical bills. We continue on with the PIP claim and are confident that we will get all of our client’s bills reimbursed soon.