Increasing the Value of a Personal Injury Case
Medical Records and Treatment
Perhaps the best way to convince a judge, jury, or arbitration panel that an accident caused the injury is through proof of the plaintiffs condition before the accident. Although the plaintiffs own testimony that he or she was feeling fine before the accident is helpful, prior medical records are even more persuasive. Thus, if the plaintiffs medical records indicate no previous complaints of pain, the accident, assuming it was a significant one, is very likely the cause of the disc problem.
If there was an MRI done prior to the accident, which can be compared to the post-accident MRI, this is very persuasive. Ifthe two MRI’s are identical, the accident obviously did not cause the problem. Ifthere have been changes between the two MRI’s, it is quite likely that the accident caused the injury. This is especially likely if the pre-accident MRI was done no more than a few months before the accident and the post-MRI was done shortly after the accident.
The electromyography (EMG) test is also a very import diagnostic tool used in the treatment of traumatic injuries. The EMG searches for nerve-related injuries. Frequently an EMG will find that the plaintiff has suffered radiculopathy, which is defined as a disease of the nerve roots. A finding of either lumbar (back) or cervical (neck) radiculopathy adds considerable value to a personal injury case. It is likely again that the insurance company’s doctor will question whether the radiculopathy was accident-related or preexisting. Assuming that the proof is fairly clear that the accident triggered the radiculopathy, one might expect a settlement of between $25,000 and $50,000.
Where the settlement falls in that range may depend upon the amount of property damage, the prognosis for the injury, whether the radiculopathy is minor, moderate, or severe, the age of the plaintiff, the track record for juries in that geographical area, the credibility of the plaintiff, the competence of the lawyer and doctor, etc. All other things being equal, a minor radiculopathy should settle for $25,000, a moderate one for $37,500, and a severe one for $50,000.