A car accident victim's two-month delay in seeking medical treatment didn't prevent him from winning a $23,000 verdict from a Gwinnett County jury.
A plaintiff's failure to see a doctor quickly can ruin many personal injury claims, but attorney Tyler Bridgers said his client was able to explain the wait and show the jury that his back pain was real.
The plaintiff, Miguel Lopez, testified during the one-day trial Nov. 14 that he lacked health insurance or financial resources to seek immediate medical help because he was a full-time student working toward his airplane mechanic certification. He treated himself with Motrin and Advil before seeing a chiropractor.
"The medical treatment delay was an obstacle, and there's not much you can do about that except to provide some justification to the jury," said Bridgers, of the law office of Bruce Hagan. "They believed he was hurt, and they wanted to return him to the position he was in before the wreck."
Lopez's case was bolstered by an MRI taken more than seven months after the accident that showed a small disc protrusion in his lower back, and he didn't have any prior history of back injuries, Bridgers said.
The defendant, Heather Etta Elser, couldn't be located to be served with the suit. The defense was represented by Sherri Short for Allstate Insurance, which carried Lopez's uninsured motorist policy.
Short, of Ronnie Moore & Associates, couldn't be reached to comment on Friday.
"Defendant contends the collision was not the proximate cause of the injury or damage to the Plaintiff to the extent that the Plaintiff has claimed," according to the defendant's portion of the pretrial order.
Besides the treatment delay, Lopez also had to overcome photographs showing a minor impact to his car, a high chiropractic bill and a gap in treatment when he worked on a cruise ship, Bridgers said.
"The take-away here is that when you've got nothing to lose, try the case. You never know what might happen," he said.