• By: Hank Stout
  • Published: October 2016

 

Pictures aren’t always worth a 1000 words

If you have been in an accident that was not your fault, you will soon realize that without the proper legal help, the system will not protect you. Insurance adjustors and defense lawyers are not your friends, and it is not their job to treat you fairly.  Their job is to pay you as little as possible on your claim. 

To justify their low offers, adjustors and defense lawyers have a variety of flawed arguments to claim they can only pay you a small fraction of what your case is worth.  Do not believe what you are told and find a lawyer that will represent your interests so you can get an honest and fair assessment of your claim.

Accidents with minor property damage are of particular concern. While a large number of minor property damage accidents result in little to no injury, this does not mean that you cannot sustain significant injury in an accident with minor property damage. 

The following are a few recent examples of cases where there was minor property damage but significant injuries:

Case Study 1: Oil Field Workplace Injury

Client had been working in the oil-field for over 10 years.  During those 10 years, he would regularly do jobs that required heavy lifting, the swinging of a sledge hammer, and the carrying of large cement bags.  He would typically work 12 to 15-hour days on his feet.  This entire time he never complained of back or neck pain, and he never needed to go to the doctor for back or neck pain.

On March 31st, the client was leaning on a trailer waiting for his shift to begin and while waiting, a large truck hit the trailer, striking the client and causing him to be thrown away from the trailer.  Here is a picture of the damage to the trailer the client was leaning on:

trailor-client-leaned-on

The client waited at the job site for a few hours and then asked to be taken to the hospital.  At the hospital, the client complained about neck and low back pain, among other things.  Eventually, the client required a two level cervical fusion to repair his neck.  Here is an illustration of the surgery that was conducted:

spinal-injury-diagram

The insurance company and defense lawyer insisted that the need for surgery was not caused by the collision and that the minor property damage proved the client’s injuries could not have been caused by the collision.  The defense lawyer in the case went so far as to hire an alleged “expert” to claim that the forces in the collision were so minimal that the trailer would not have even moved much less cause an injury to the client.  Here is a copy of the “report”.

Based on this defense and others, the insurance company refused to be fair with the client.  In response, our Firm invested over $89,000.00 working up the client’s case to, among other things, demonstrate that the collision did in fact cause the client’s health problems. 

Realizing that we were not going to accept the unfair offer and that we were prepared to take the client’s case to trial, the insurance company agreed to pay over 8 times what it said was its final offer at mediation.  The net to the client after case expenses and fees was $1,005,526.

Case Study 2: Rear End Auto Accident

Client was in stop and go traffic in Houston when he was suddenly hit from behind. Here is a picture of the damage:

rear-end-damage

While it does not look like much, the forces of the impact caused the client to have significant back pain. Complicating the case was the fact that the client had had prior back problems, but the accident made his back problem much worse. As a result of the injury, the client underwent back surgery.

The at-fault insurance company refused to pay for the injuries and took the position that the injuries could not have been caused by the collision. In response, we filed suit and started the litigation process. We took a number of depositions, including the deposition of the treating physician. As a result of these efforts, we were able to convince the at-fault insurance company to pay its $100,000.00 policy limits. Net recovery to the client was $69,122.42.

Case Study 3: 18-Wheeler Accident

The client was involved in a motor vehicle accident on January 27, 2013 on Interstate 35 near San Marcos, Texas. The at-fault driver was driving an 18-wheeler owned and operated by a large company. While he was attempting to change lanes in stop and go traffic, the 18-wheeler came into contact with the client’s vehicle. After the collision, the client needed several surgeries to address her back and neck problems. Here are pictures of the damage:

phyllis-campos-vehicle-photos

Initially, the client hired a lawyer she had seen on television. After almost a year of nothing really happing, the client fired her lawyer and gave us a call. We went to work right away investigating the facts and filing suit.

One of the Defendants’ main arguments was that the property damage photos do not look too bad, so there is no way she can be that hurt. Anticipating Defendants’ arguments from the beginning, we hired one of the most well respected biomechanical engineers in the country to help the jury understand the forces involved in such a collision. With the help of this expert, we were able to clearly demonstrate that the client’s injuries were consistent with the applied forces in the collision.

After significant efforts, we were able to convince the insurance to resolve the case. The net recovery to the client after fees and expenses was $709,324.65.

About the Author

Hank Stout is a founding partner at Sutliff & Stout, Injury & Accident Law Firm. Hank earned his doctor of jurisprudence from South Texas College of Law and has been actively trying personal injury cases for over ten years. He was recognized by Thompson Reuters as a Rising Star from 2012-2014 and has been recognized as a Super Lawyer since 2014 (a distinction given to less than 1% of the lawyers in the state of Texas). He has earned a Superb rating by Avvo, and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. To learn more, read Hank's full bio here.

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