Articles Posted in Back & Neck Injuries

A New York City jury signed a $39.5 million verdict for a 30-year-old woman after she fell through an unguarded “vertical ladder” fire escape and suffered permanent injuries. That fire escape design had long been outlawed under legislation approved by the New York state legislature in 1928. This type of fire escape design is what was known as a vertical ladder.  The 1928 law required that all such vertical fire escape ladders be replaced.  The law was amended in 1948 to require all such models be replaced within a year.

In November 2008, Anastasia “Sasha” Klupchak was a 22-year-old New York University honor student and a varsity soccer player. She was visiting a friend’s fourth-floor apartment on 82nd Avenue in Manhattan. That evening,she joined two friends on the fire escape, which was at the back of her friend’s apartment.

As she turned to climb back through the kitchen window from the fire escape, she fell through an unguarded opening in the fire escape platform. She fell 12 feet to the roof below and suffered a severed spine and is now paralyzed from the waist down. She will be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life.

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Cornell Smith, 38, was driving on a highway when he stopped for the traffic ahead. Traffic was backed up from an off-ramp exit. While he was sitting in his stopped SUV, he was rear-ended by Ross Keys, who was driving a cargo van for Tri-Cal Distributors LLC.  On impact, Smith was wearing a seatbelt, but he was thrown upward in his seat and struck his head on the roof of his SUV. He felt immediate head and neck pain. Smith was transported to the nearest hospital. He was diagnosed there with a concussion and cervical sprain.

In the months following the crash, Smith developed chronic headaches, neck and mid-back pain and numbness and tingling in his fingers. The radiology imaging revealed cervical disk and facet damage, including an indentation of the ventral cord at C5-7.

He underwent conservative treatment and medication, but the pain interfered with his ability to perform his job as a police officer.

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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has affirmed a decision by a federal magistrate judge regarding an injured railroad worker. Chance Kelham, a railroad engineer for CSX Transportation Inc., was operating a mile-long freight train that had two locomotives and 69 empty cars. He was ordered to halt his train briefly on a parallel track to allow another train with a higher priority to pass him. Kelham halted his train.

Problems occurred when a third train, which was also ordered to wait on the parallel track, did not stop and collided with Kelham’s train from behind.

Kelham was injured and sued CSX, claiming it was negligent and was the cause of his injury. He sought compensation under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA).

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Ana Espinal, 41, was a home health aide who was working in a New York City hospital. She was walking in a hospital hallway when she slipped and fell in a puddle of water that had leaked from an air conditioner in the ceiling. She suffered neck, back, left hip and left leg pain and diminished sensation in her left, non-dominant arm. Espinal was diagnosed with herniated disks at C5-6 and L4-S1, bulging disks at C4-5 and L1-4, left shoulder impingement and aggravation of asymptomatic arthritis in her left knee.

Espinal underwent conservative treatment, but that failed. She then had a laminectomy infusion at L4-S1, which included implantation of stabilizing hardware. The following year she underwent three separate surgeries, including implantation of spinal stimulators and her neck and lower back and a left knee replacement. She required additional surgeries for repair or replacement of the spinal stimulators.

Her past medical expenses totaled $439,000. Her workers’ compensation carrier paid all the medical bills plus indemnity benefits and maintained a worker’s compensation lien of $567,800.

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Kerry Hogland was 36 years old when driving her sedan on a highway near Fredericktown, Mo. An employee of Town & Country Grocers of Fredericktown drove onto the highway from an on-ramp. The driver of the Town & Country Grocers vehicle did not heed a stop sign at the end of the ramp and crashed broadside into Hogland’s sedan on the passenger side.

Hogland’s vehicle spun out of control and landed in a field next to the highway.

She suffered an intracranial hemorrhage, an epidural hematoma that necessitated a craniotomy and a skull fracture that left her deaf in her right ear. A craniotomy is a surgical procedure where a bone flap is removed from the skull to allow access to the brain. The surgery removes a part of the bone from the skull to expose the brain. The bone flap is temporarily removed and then replaced after the brain surgery is completed.  Obviously, this is a very serious and dangerous surgery.

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On April 12, 2012, Jennifer Hawkins was stopped at a red light on westbound 127th Street in Lemont, Ill.  The defendant, 18-year-old Nicole Barrett, rear-ended the car right behind Hawkins, which pushed that car into Hawkins’s car. The force of the impact totaled the middle vehicle (a Chevy Suburban) and caused nearly $5,000 in property damage to Hawkins’s Toyota Matrix. The crash also resulted in $4,727 in property damage to Barrett’s minivan.

Hawkins, 35, filed this lawsuit against Barrett maintaining that the crash caused her to have neck and lower back sprains, a protruding disc at C5-6, cervical and lumbar facet syndrome, cervical and lumbar radiculopathy and aggravation of her scoliosis, or curvature of the spine. Hawkins underwent multiple facet joint injections, several nerve blocks and cervical and lumbar radiofrequency ablation treatment. She introduced evidence of $227,563 of past medical expenses and $6,589 in lost wages where she worked as a cashier.

Her treating physician testified that she was a candidate for a future spinal cord stimulator implant, lumbar fusion and continued interventional pain management treatment.

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On Oct. 18, 2011, Shama Khan was a passenger in her husband’s car, which was stopped at a red light on eastbound Grand Avenue (Route 132) near Stonebrook Drive in Gurnee, Ill.  The defendant Shawn Tabin, 72, was driving his car eastbound and then rear-ended the car behind the Khan vehicle, which was pushed into the back of Khan’s car.

The plaintiff Shama Khan, 48, maintained in the lawsuit that was filed that the impact of the collision caused her to suffer a protruding cervical disc, which was unoperated, cervical radiculopathy, lumbar radiculopathy, post-concussion syndrome, short-term memory deficits and depression. Her medical expenses were alleged to be $38,375.

The defendant Shawn Tabin claimed that the middle driver, third-party defendant Gregory L. Burton, ran into the plaintiff’s car before Tabin’s car rear-ended Burton and caused him to hit her a second time, which was supported by Khan’s claim that she felt two separate impacts to the back of her husband’s vehicle.

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Mark Barto, who was 41 at the time, worked as a rigger aboard the Derrick Barge 50, a vessel owned by the defendant J. Ray McDermott International Vessels Ltd. While Barto was greasing and spooling a whip line from an overhead gantry crane, he stood on a board inside a spooling machine. The board broke, causing Barto to fall about 4 feet onto the vessel’s deck.

Barto suffered soft tissue cervical injuries and lumbar injuries requiring a three-level fusion surgery.

Today Barto is unable to return to work and has incurred medical expenses of $138,800.

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Marilyn Kayman was injured in a car crash on Jan. 30, 2009 in which her car was struck from behind by the car driven by the defendant Janice Matthews Rasheed. Kayman went to the emergency room at Hinsdale Hospital shortly after the crash but was discharged the same day. She continued to have neck pain and other symptoms.

Kayman visited her family practice physician on Feb. 4, 2009. She was subsequently referred to an orthopedic surgeon and was treated between 2009 and 2012. At the recommendation of the orthopedic surgeon, Kayman underwent physical therapy and was also prescribed medical devices to use at home to help alleviate her pain.

Kayman filed a lawsuit against Rasheed claiming the accident had caused her neck and back pain, headaches and other symptoms. Rasheed admitted negligence in striking Kayman’s car, but disputed the extent to which the 2009 collision caused Kayman’s alleged injuries.

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A driver of a tractor-trailer owned by J.M. Leasing was traveling on an interstate roadway where the conditions were poor because of snow. The tractor-trailer driver passed a slow-moving vehicle in the right lane. When the truck driver attempted to return to the right lane at about 55 mph, he lost control of the vehicle and the truck jackknifed. The plaintiff in this case, Christopher Spunar, was driving a sedan on the highway and was able to stop in time in front of the jackknifed truck. However, another tractor-trailer operated by Arthur Medeiros for Medeiros Trucking Inc. crashed into the Spunar vehicle. Yet another tractor-trailer driven by L.W. Miller Transportation also collided with the Spunar sedan.

 

Hope Spunar, 70, a passenger in Christopher’s vehicle, suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage, a traumatic brain injury and fractures to her neck at C2, her coccyx and her sacrum.

 

Her medical expenses were $85,000. Christopher Spunar, who was in his 50s at the time, suffered a fractured sternum, a bulging disk at C5-6 and a fractured clavicle among other injuries. Another passenger in the Spunar vehicle was Nicholas Spunar, 18, who suffered a hematoma, a fractured rib and a closed-head injury resulting in post-concussion syndrome.

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