$2.4M Settlement for Medical Injuries, Despite No Medical Wrongdoing

The Daily Business Review recently reported on a confidential settlement agreement a woman reached with her employer for $2.4 million for injuries she sustained while receiving medical treatment for a crash with an underinsured driver while she was operating a company vehicle. caraccident

Our Boca Raton car accident lawyers see this case a good example of how complicated personal injury litigation can be. Many cases need not necessarily proceed to the trial phase in order to reach a fair conclusion, but having an experienced attorney will help ensure your interests are protected.

Here, the names of the litigants were not available, given the confidential nature of the case. However, as reported by the DBR, here are the facts:

The Deerfield Beach woman was involved in a crash in December 2007. At the time, she was 44-years-old, suffered a pre-existing condition (herniated discs in her lower back), and was driving a vehicle owned by her company, a sizable hair salon chain. The crash aggravated her pre-existing condition, for which she sought medical treatment.

The other driver was deemed to be at-fault for the crash, but he did not have enough insurance to cover her expenses.

As part of her treatment for the crash-related injuries, she underwent physical therapy and also received a series of steroid injections in her spine.

A few months after receiving those initial injections, doctors diagnosed her with adrenal insufficiency. This is a condition that is permanent, and involves a sharp decline of hormones that results in fluctuating blood pressure, weight gain, a compromised immune system, severe fatigue and even osteoporosis. The condition was deemed to be a rare reaction to the steroid treatments, which are known to be both common and standard for her condition.

There was no accusation that the doctor’s breached the applicable standard of care in her case, which is why no medical providers were sued.

However, in arguing the employer’s insurer should be responsible to compensate the worker for the resulting damages, the woman’s lawyer cited the 1977 Florida’s Supreme court decision in Stuart v. Hertz Corp. In that case, a worker was injured in a crash with a driver operating a rental car. As a result of the crash, she required surgery. The woman suffered further injuries as a result of alleged wrongdoing by the doctor.

The defendant’s insurer sought to file a third-party medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctor for the woman’s injuries during surgery. The state supreme court rejected the claim, indicating it wrongly expanded the applicability of third-party litigation.

What that means is that the original party who causes harm is liable for all subsequent damages resulting from that harm. This means auto insurance companies may be held responsible even for clear cases of medical malpractice, so long as the original reason the plaintiff was receiving treatment was due to the crash.

In this case, it is the employer’s insurance carrier that was alleged to be liable for injuries caused by the steroid injections, because the injured driver was working at the time and the at-fault driver was underinsured.

The $2.4 million settlement will mean the pending court case will be voluntarily dismissed by the plaintiff.

These types of situations are certainly complex, but they are not especially rare, considering the rate at which patients suffer averse medical outcomes. A medical complication doesn’t necessarily mean the doctors committed medical malpractice. However in this case, that was beside the point.

If you have been injured, contact the Hollander Law Firm at 888-751-7777 for a free and confidential consultation. There is no fee unless we win.

Additional Resources:

Woman Gets $2.4M Settlement Even Though Doctors Did Nothing Wrong, Aug. 4, 2014, By Adolfo Pesquera, Daily Business Review

More Blog Entries:

Pre-Trial Investigation Critical to Civil Case Success, Aug. 6, 2014, Boca Raton Car Accident Lawyers