As of November 15, 2012, there were 40 minimum impact rear end car accident cases which went to trial during the year in Orange County, California. Thirty nine of these cases resulted in verdicts for the defense. This meant a verdict of zero dollars for the injured plaintiffs. The juries in those cases did not believe that the plaintiff could be injured unless the plaintiff’s vehicle showed major damage.
Orange County accident lawyer John P. Burns obtained a significant verdict for his client in such a case after introducing the following into evidence:
- Image of the interior of the bumper system of client’s car.
- Expert accident reconstruction testimony to explain the internal bumper system.
- Medical image of client’s MRI film.
- Medical image of client’s pain management injection.
- Expert medical testimony to explain the medical images.
The Bumper Cover is not the Bumper
What we see when we look at rear bumper of a car is actually a fiberglass bumper cover. This fiberglass bumper cover collapses in a rear end impact and then rebounds back, showing little damage. Here is a photo of the damage to the client’s rear end bumper cover after the accident.
Actual Damage Was Not Visible
Under the external bumper cover is a large metal bar. This metal bar sits behind the bumper cover on the rear of the body of the car.
While the client’s car was in the repair shop, Mr. Burns took photos before repairs were begun. The rear bumper cover was taken off in approximately 15 minutes by a shop technician. This photo shows the vehicle body damage, which can be seen as a deformation of the rear body of the car in the left rear body panel. The internal bumper bar can also bee seen in the photo.
Testimony of Plaintiff’s Accident Reconstruction Expert
Plaintiff’s accident reconstruction expert used the damage photo to explain to the jurors that the damage was to the car body inside the bumper cover and that the bumper cover photo did not reveal the actual damage. The expert also explained that the force of the impact was transmitted through the bumper cover, into the internal metal bumper bar and then into the rear body panel.
The post accident MRI of the client’s neck showed a 3.5 millimeter disc protrusion. Mr. Burns had copies of his client’s neck MRI copied off the MRI and shown to the jury. The photo of the MRI shows the person facing to the left, the brain at the top and the person’s back to the right.
The discs are shown in the MRI as dark colored flattened ovals. They can be seen to the left of the photo between the light colored bony vertasbrae of the spine. The white colored material in the center of the photo is the fluid which surrounds the brain and spinal cord. The spinal cord can be seen as a dark line, coming down from the brain, and running down through the white colored spinal fluid alongside the spinal coloumn and discs. The white colored mass on the right side of the photo is normal muscle and body fat.
The injured disc can be seen in the center section of the photo where it narrows the spinal canal and pushes against the sac which holds the spinal fluid and spinal cord. Plaintiff’s expert neurosurgeon explained that the disc protrusion shown in the MRI image was the most likely cause of the plaintiff’s neck pain.
Image of Pain Management Injection
Photos were also taken of the client receiving trigger point pain management injections. These photos were introduced into evidence. The plaintiff’s expert pain management physician explained what was being injected in the image and the medical reason for the injections.
Jurors Agreed Client Was Truly Injured
After the trial the jurors spoke with Mr. Burns in the hall outside the courtroom. The leading juror said “You convinced us that your client was injured and we felt she deserved to win.” The images of the internal damages to the client’s car, plus the images of the client’s injuries and treatment, were significant factors in overcoming the string of defense verdicts in minimum impact collision cases in Orange County.
The case resulted a significant verdict for the plaintiff.