Our client in this case was a 24-year old woman who was injured in a rear-end collision caused by a drunk driver in Scottsdale, Arizona. The responsible driver was arrested by Scottsdale police and cited for extreme DUI (an alcohol concentration of .15 or more). Our client declined emergency transportation to the hospital, because initially she did not believe she had any serious injuries. Over the next few hours, however, the pain in her neck and back increased in severity. As a result, she went later that day to a local urgent care facility for examination. The urgent care physician diagnosed her with muscle pain and inflammation, and he prescribed Vicodin for the pain.
For the next several months, our client treated conservatively with both a physical therapist and chiropractor for the pain in her neck and back. When her condition failed to improve, her chiropractor ordered an MRI of her lumbar spine (lower back) which revealed, among other things, a disc protrusion and disc bulge.
The chiropractor referred our client to a pain management specialist. The pain management specialist recommended that she undergo a series of epidural steroid injections, blocks, and a radiofrequency procedure to reduce pain. Once we learned the details of the pain management plan, we hired an expert to prepare a report calculating our client's expected future medical expenses (because she was only 24 years old at the time of the accident, her life expectancy was in excess of 60 years). Our expert calculated the expected future medical expenses to be nearly $2,000,000.
Based on the reports we obtained, the drunk driver's insurance company offered to settle the claim for the full policy limit of $100,000. We then made a demand on our client’s own insurance company for payment of the full underinsured motorist policy limit of $100,000. Incredibly, the insurance company offered only $37,000, despite the fact that our client's future medical expenses were estimated to be about $2,000,000. After we threatened to file a bad faith claim against the insurance company, it offered to pay its full policy limit of $100,000. Total settlement: $200,000.
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