lost wages

Issues At Trial In Impairment of Earning Capacity Claim

This post is part two in a three-part trial report.  The judge in our case was the recently retired Honorable Stephen N. Tiktin from Bend. He was excellent, as usual.

The Defense Counsel was Barry Goehler, head of Nationwide Insurance’s in-house firm. He did a fine job and was very easy to work with.

The main issues in this case were as follows:

  1. My client was charged with felony methamphetamine possession and hindering prosecution in 2007. The judgment of conviction was entered only ten days prior to this collision.
  2. He did not come off as the most credible person on the stand, having changed portions of his testimony from his deposition.
  3. Of the four “before and after” witnesses my client could provide, one had only seen him once a year since 2002, two had significant felony convictions as well as crime of dishonesty convictions, and one didn’t remember much. I went with the one who didn’t remember much, and he showed up in court unshaven and in dirty blue jeans.
  4. My client is 30 years old and still lives at home with his father. The father, who is 71, did a decent job testifying but lacked a good memory.
  5. My client had a prior shoulder dislocation involving the same shoulder when he was a kid.
  6. The pain and symptoms my client was reporting was more consistent with a labral tear than exacerbation of prior AC joint arthritis (and he had an extensive amount of that). Labral tears come from shoulder dislocations, which did not happen in this collision.
  7. My client waited a full 31 days before seeking treatment, working full time while waiting. Thus, the onset of symptoms boiled down to his credibility, which could appear questionable.
  8. My client continued to work as a line cook for nearly four months after the collision, without help or alteration of his job duties. He later quit his job because he didn’t get along with management.

Experts testified on both sides.

We called Blake Nonweiler, MD, my client’s surgeon. He opined that the collision caused the AC joint symptoms but that there was no evidence of labral injury upon his examinations.  The Defense had Dr. Steven Brenneke of Clackamas testify. Dr. Brenneke admitted many facts that were helpful to me, including the fact that he had never seen the MRI that claimed to show a Hills-Sachs lesion (which can only come from a dislocation), but gave the opinion that the symptoms were more consistent with a labral tear which must have been present prior to the collision based on the lesion.  Our doctor testified that the MRI did not confirm such a lesion, and showed no signs of labral tearing.  Dr. Brenneke also testified that the mechanism of injury was wrong for an AC joint injury, and that there should have been immediate and intense symptoms if the AC joint was, in fact, injured.

The Defendant then hired DME doctor Holm Neumann just ten days prior to trial. Dr. Neumann, interestingly, agreed with Dr. Nonwiler regarding the lack of a Hills-Sachs lesion. However, he also opined that the mechanism of injury was all wrong for an AC joint injury. He also testified that there should have been immediate and significant symptoms if it had been injured. I pointed out also that he was not provided with all of the records, including any of the chiropractic records. He then added that he was not given all of the pre-surgery imaging records, either! Both defense doctors agreed, however, that there was no evidence presented to them confirming or even mentioning any left shoulder pain or symptoms prior to the injury, that all evidence (by client history) was that the left shoulder was symptomatic within days of the collision, and that the surgery was appropriate for symptomatic AC joint arthritis. Again, given this testimony, all opinions turned on the credibility of my client in giving his history.

My next post will detail the results of the trial.

Lawyer Timothy Williams | Top Attorney Personal Injury | Tim Williams Attorney Profile

Impairment of Earning Capacity Claim in Oregon Car Accident Injury Case

This trial report concerns a collision that occurred at the intersection of SW 6th Street and SW Evergreen Avenue in Redmond, Oregon. My client was a passenger in his father’s Honda Accord at the time, which was stopped at the intersection specified above. Our client was looking out the car window to his left, watching an ongoing police arrest and had his left arm extended behind his father’s seat. The Defendant in the case failed to stop behind the Honda, rear-ending the car at a low speed, less than ten miles per hour. The property damage was minimal; there was no airbag deployment, the Honda was not pushed forward appreciably, and the Defendant didn’t even get his SUV fixed.

Our client denied injury at the scene. He testified that he felt symptoms in his neck, mid-back and left shoulder later that day, with pain setting in the following day. He did not treat for his injuries for approximately 30 days following the collision. He ultimately required left shoulder surgery to treat his primary injury – a symptomatic activation of prior left AC joint arthritis. After his surgery, he was unable to work his job for a number of months. As a result, he sought reimbursement for his lost wages. He is also left with permanent physical impairment secondary to his injuries, for which he seeks reimbursement for related impairment of his earning capacity. However, he testified that his current condition really does not cause pain nor interfere much with his daily activities. He also has a pre-existing low back issue and is obese.

The Defendant admitted liability, but denied causation and damages.

Going into trial, our prayer was for $21,000 for past medical expenses; $8,480  for lost wages; $200,000 for impaired earning capacity; and $250,000 for noneconomic damages.

My next post will detail the main issues in this case.

Lawyer Timothy Williams | Top Attorney Personal Injury | Tim Williams Attorney Profile

Trial Report – Bend DUII Accident, Part III

The DUII-auto accident trial detailed in the last two posts took four full days.

When they jury returned, they awarded my client the following:

  • $8,350.10 for all past medical expenses.
  • No future medicals. This was the most surprising part of the award decision, since they related all priors up to last November.
  • No lost wages or impaired earning capacity. This was not really a surprise, given the economy and fact that my client still worked 100+ hours per week.
  • $10,000 non-economic damages. This, frankly, was also not surprising since my client spends all of his time at work.
  • $25,000 punitive damages.

The offer going into trial was $25,000, which my client received in punitive damages alone. It was a successful trial and another happy client.

Lawyer Timothy Williams | Top Attorney Personal Injury | Tim Williams Attorney Profile

Auto Accident Claim Settlement Bridges Financial Gap

Our client was driving on Portland, Oregon’s Freemont Bridge when a tow truck driver cut him off. Because he was on the bridge and had no where to go, he couldn’t avoid the accident. He crashed into the side of the bridge and suffered a severe neck injury. Oregon Auto Car Accident Attorneys, Accident Attorney Oregon | Dwyer Williams Dretke PC | Oregon Personal Injury Attorneys Besides being painful and costly to treat, this injury also affected our client’s ability to work. He had been a mechanic for the local school district for 25 years but could no longer perform this physically demanding job with his injury.

He was seriously concerned about caring for himself and his family during the time it would take for him to learn a new skill and get a new job that he could do with his neck injury. He filed a claim with his insurance company for his lost wages and retraining costs. The insurance company denied this claim. Now really concerned, he called an experienced auto accident attorney to help him fight for his claim.

The insurance company held firm on its denial of our client’s claim, so I filed a lawsuit to bring the case before a jury, if necessary. As is often the case, filing a lawsuit made the insurance company take another look at the claim under dispute. When they reviewed it with their attorneys and reconsidered the facts, they changed their decision and offered policy limits to our client. This compensation gave our client the means to pay for retraining in a new profession. Thanks to the representation of an experienced Personal Injury Attorney, our client was able to learn a new profession and continue to do what was most important to him – care for his family.

No Stop Signs on the Road to Settlement

It was a beautiful Saturday in Portland, Oregon, and our client was taking his new dog to the dog park for the first time. He was just around the corner from the park when another driver ran a stop sign, hitting the front of the driver’s side of his car. Oregon Auto Car Accident Attorneys, Accident Attorney Oregon | Dwyer Williams Dretke PC | Oregon Personal Injury Attorneys He didn’t feel like he was seriously injured, so he and the other driver exchanged the necessary information, and our client called a tow truck to come take his car to the shop and a friend picked him and the dog up from the scene and took them home. The next day, he woke up with neck pain that he realized must be from the accident. Although he hadn’t felt injured at the time of the accident, the impact was beginning to take its toll. He got to his doctor’s office and found out that he would need medical treatment.

After undergoing medical treatment for a long 13 months, he had lost over $10,000 in wages due to the restrictions on his physical movement because of his injury and had $5,000 in bills for the damage done to his car, plus medical expenses. He filed a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, but they offered only $7,000. That offer was unsatisfactory to our client, so he called us, experienced auto accident attorneys.

I reviewed his medical records and account of the accident and undertook several rounds of negotiating with the insurance company. Despite our evidence and facts, they didn’t bring their offer up to what I considered a fair amount. Because we stop at nothing to get our clients the settlements they deserve, I moved ahead with the next logical step and filed a lawsuit on my client’s behalf. An attorney for the insurance company took his deposition, and we set up mediation to try again to resolve the claim. After meeting with the mediator, the insurance company offered the policy limits and the case was settled for a fair amount. Our client was happy with the settlement and, with his injury healed, was able to resume his normal life.

If you’ve been involved in a car accident that has resulted in medical expenses, lost wages, or pain and suffering that the insurance company won’t reimburse you for fairly, we can help. One of our expert Personal Injury Attorneys will be happy to discuss your Oregon Personal Injury case with you. Call us now: 541-617-0555