Car Accident Injury Turns into $1.4M Award

Written by:

How does a lawyer turn a back strain into a $1.4 million award?

Answer: They don’t, it just becomes one.

This is the story about Luke and how I got a $1.4 million award in damages for his personal injuries.

Luke was driving home from work on the evening of October 25, 2018, after installing tile and stone into a customer’s house for 12 hours.

Luke was eastbound heading up the hill on Southwest Reed Market Road from the Mill District towards the parkway in Bend, Oregon, when a driver ran a stop sign and hit the front passenger quarter panel/wheel of his truck knocking it into the oncoming turn lane.

The photograph of Luke’s truck doesn’t show much damage because the brunt of the impact was on the front passenger wheel/uni-body of the truck. However, the estimate to repair the damage was over $17,000.

Luckily, Luke had taken photographs of the car that ran the stop sign. These photos show how hard the impact was. (The photos the police took at the accident scene were useless as they were so dark.)

It’s important to photograph the damage to the vehicles to preserve evidence for your personal injury case.

When Luke first called me in early 2019, I answered all his questions (as I always do) and told him that I wasn’t sure that he needed me to help him, as he only had a back strain. Luke decided not to hire me at that point.

Luke followed up with me in June 2019, saying he would like me to help him. I agreed to work with him.

Luke had strained his upper and lower back, along with his neck, in the accident. The first mistake he made was that he did not go to the doctor on the day of the accident. Instead, he waited 3 weeks before going to urgent care.

The 2nd mistake he made was that he did not follow the urgent care doctor’s order to see a physical therapist. Instead, he went to a chiropractor. Luckily, he had a good reason for doing that and we made sure to explain it in the case.

Luke’s neck and upper back strains resolved with chiropractic treatment but he continued to have lower back pain and followed up with a neurosurgeon who found a herniated disc but did not recommend surgery.

I sent a demand to Country Financial, the at-fault driver’s insurance company, but they refused to make a reasonable offer. I filed a lawsuit. The insurance company paid their entire policy limits 18 months later.

I then sent a settlement demand to Luke’s insurance company, Progressive, for underinsured motorist benefits. When they refused to make a reasonable offer, I prosecuted and tried that case and recovered a $1.4 million award, 14 months later.

I was able to prove that Luke, a self-employed tiling and stone contractor, was unable to continue his job after his car accident injury, as he was no longer able to do any heavy lifting. I hired a vocational expert who testified to the expense it would cost Luke to retrain to a new job and how much income he would lose doing that.

I also had a contractor with whom Luke had worked testify that Luke was one of the top 3 contractors with whom he had ever worked as far as the quality of his work, the amount he charged, and how long he took to complete the work.

The most important evidence in the case was photographs and videos Luke made of his work showing how physical it was and why he could not continue to do it.

Here is a picture of the tile work Luke did at the West Side Tavern on NW Galveston Avenue in Bend, Oregon. Luke did the tile work on the front of the bar and underneath the barstools.

For those of you reading this article, here are the lessons you should take from this:

  1. Immediately go to the doctor if you are injured in an accident. The mentality that Insurance companies hold is, “If you don’t treat, you’re not hurt.”
  2. Follow your doctor’s orders regarding the treatment recommended and keep treating until your injuries have fully resolved or you have become medically stationary. Luke treated the entire time his case was ongoing, despite moving.
  3. Preserve the evidence in your case including photographs of the damage to the vehicles and other photos in support of your damages such as those that show what you were able to do both at work and recreationally before the accident.
  4. Call an attorney early on so that they can get involved in your case and can preserve the evidence. 
  5. Work with your attorney to provide them with the support that they need to prepare your case. Luke told me he treated working with me as a 2nd job and that made a big difference in his case.
  6. Dig in for the long haul. Luke’s case took nearly 4 years to get fully resolved.

This case shows that sometimes a full and fair recovery is a lot more than one would expect. Who would think that a back strain would result in a $1.4 million award? Neither Luke nor I did at the beginning of his case.

Personal injury cases are not a way to make quick money

If you hire me, put in the time and effort to support me, and are patient enough to let the case proceed, I will get you a fair recovery.

I have been a personal injury attorney for 30 years and have represented every major insurance company defending these types of claims. I use my experience as a trial attorney and insurance defense attorney to make sure my clients do not get taken advantage of. When an insurance company does not negotiate with my clients fairly, I file suit and take their cases to trial (if they want me to). However, I will not try to win the lottery for a client just because they are injured in an accident. If you want a full and fair recovery, I will get that for you.