T-bone collisions are one of the most dangerous car accidents for Missouri intersections where the front of one car hits the side of another. For one of our clients, this type of collision led to serious neck and back injuries and extensive mental trauma resulting in a post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis.
Today, we are going in-depth about the case, the physical and mental repercussions and the eventual successful outcome of the trial.
Describing the T-Bone Collision
JP and his wife, LP, were driving to pick up one of their kids from school when a driver coming from the opposite direction suddenly turned left in front of JP’s car, causing a moderate to severe t-bone collision, where airbags deployed. JP was taken by ambulance to the emergency room, where he complained of shoulder and neck pain. He was eventually treated with a cervical disc surgery that was largely successful in relieving his neck and shoulder symptoms. Additionally, LP sustained a broken hand that healed after 4-6 weeks.
The Long-Term Effects of the Collision
After roughly three months of recuperation from his neck surgery, JP was preparing to return to his employment as a sales rep in the health insurance benefits market. During the three months of recuperation, JP was experiencing insomnia and increased anxiety. As his return-to-work date neared, JP realized he was not able to engage in the work as he did before the t-bone collision and his injuries. His focus and attention were limited, and the insomnia was causing him to be tired and agitated.
JP came under the care of a psychiatrist who diagnosed him with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Interestingly enough, LP was not suffering from any of the PTSD or anxiety symptoms. While his neck and shoulder had healed to the point that he was able to work, the PTSD symptoms prevented JP from performing any work, especially his employment as a sales rep.
Developing a Lawsuit
JP had under-insured motorist (UIM) coverage with limits of $500,000 and around this time, the other driver’s insurance company tendered its $100,000 policy limits. After a demand for the $500,000 policy limits was rejected, a lawsuit was filed for recovery of the underinsured motorist coverage, focusing on JP’s damages for the neck surgery, the emotional damages from PTSD and his wage losses.
His PTSD symptoms continued to intensify, and he continued to deal with insomnia, recurring nightmares of the t-bone collision and lack of focus or attention. Psychiatric treatment including medication helped relieve some of the symptoms, but JP remained disabled from his occupation.
The Longevity of Mental Trauma
One of the continuing issues and the insurance company’s primary defense was that the PTSD symptoms were overstated and exaggerated, especially since LP had no similar symptoms despite being exposed to the same trauma. It was learned through research and in consultation with the treating psychiatrist that PTSD is more likely to occur with people that have had a prior diagnosis of an anxiety disorder.
Not surprisingly, JP had a prior anxiety disorder diagnosed while going through a divorce over 10 years before the t-bone collision. This prior diagnosis was embraced and shared with the jury to explain the onset of the current PTSD.
The Final Case Result
The case was eventually tried to a jury in United States District Court in St. Louis, MO. The federal court jury returned a unanimous verdict after four days of trial in the amount of $670,000. The trial judge awarded JP the entire $500,000 of under-insured benefits, ruling that the original $100,000 settlement was a credit against the total damages from the t-bone collision, not the $500,000 UIM limits.
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