Interview About Recent Cervical Fusion Verdict in Fulton County, Georgia

Below is an interview with
Atlanta accident attorney Robert N. Katz about his firm’s recent $1,395,000 car accident verdict
in Fulton County, Georgia State Court.

What type of case was this?

Our client
was involved in a 3-car accident in Atlanta.  She was driving her car, but stopped on I-75
due to a back-up at the Howell Mill exit ramp. 
Two others cars collided, which caused one of those vehicles to hit our
client in the driver side door area.

What injuries did your client sustain?

Our client
suffered a number of injuries, the most severe of which was a ruptured disc in
the neck area of her spine.  This injury
resulted in her undergoing a cervical fusion. This is a very serious surgery
which will impact her for the rest of her life.

What was the ultimate resolution in the
case?

After a 2
day trial in front of Judge Susan B. Forsling in Fulton County State Court, the
jury awarded our client $1,395,000.  The
verdict was separated as follows: $1,300,000 for pain and suffering, $70,000
for medical bills, and $25,000 for loss of consortium.

Was there a pre-trial offer from the
defendant?

Yes.  The pre-trial offer was $100,000.

Why didn’t you accept the offer of
$100,000?

Although the
case had some significant challenges, we felt that wasn’t enough to fully
compensate our client.  Our job as
attorneys is to remain completely committed to the case until our client  receives a fair outcome.  In our law practice, we take that
responsibility very seriously.

What were the facts that made the case
challenging?

There were a
number of significant facts that were potentially problematic. The first had to
do with treatment.  Although our client
experienced neck pain 3 days after the accident, she did not see a medical
doctor for her injuries until 3 weeks later. 
And it was 5 months before she saw an orthopedic specialist.  During that time, she trained for and ran a half-marathon..  It wasn’t until 2 years after the accident
that an MRI showed our client had a herniated disc in her neck, which
subsequently required a surgical fusion. Over the two years prior to the
diagnosis, she also participated in 2 Peachtree Road
races. The defendant placed a lot of stock in the fact she ran the
half-marathon and participated in the Peachtree Road Races. However, our
medical expert was clear that running does not cause a ruptured disk and we
felt our client was an extremely honest and believable witness. She testified
that, as an avid runner, she ran with the pain in her neck and the jury
believed her.

And there were more issues?

Yes.  Our client’s orthopedic doctor was a
childhood friend of her brother.  So our
trial team had to overcome the defendant’s assertion that he was biased in his
evaluation of her condition.

Were there also challenges with Insurance
and Bankruptcy?

Yes.  Defendants maintain that the umbrella
insurance policy that my clients have with their company does not provide
uninsured motorist coverage.  We strongly
disagree and are in the middle of litigating this issue. Unfortunately, cases
do not always end with the trial is over. 
However, we feel confident that we will be successful on the issue in
the end.  Also, my clients were in
bankruptcy at the time of the trial. Therefore, we were concerned that this
could result in a bias against them with the jury.  However, I think the jury was very fair-minded
and simply looked at the facts of the case.

This sounds like an impossible case to
win.  What were the factors that
contributed to the successful verdict?

I would say
there were three.  First, our client was
very honest, and that came through in her testimony.  Second, our trial team was very well
prepared.  We knew the facts and the law,
and, third, my co-counsel, Lyn Dodson, did an excellent in preparing witnesses
and in finding jury charges that proved to be significant.

You are in your 25th year of
representing accident victims in Georgia, but what did you take from this case?

Don’t be
afraid of unfavorable facts. 
Unfortunately, we’ve seen other attorneys settle cases like this for
much less.  Our client was an avid
runner, who now has a 25% permanent impairment of her whole body.  She deserved this outcome, and we were
pleased to represent her. 

Personal injury lawyer Robert N. Katz answers important questions about his client’s cervical fusion case that recently resulted in a seven figure verdict.

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Robert N. Katz

Licensed since 1987

Member at firm Katz Wright Fleming Dodson & Mildenhall, LLC

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