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In October of 2011, Dwayne Schwartz side-swiped Susan Christ while he was trying to pass a stopped bus; Schwartz was travelling approximately ten miles per hour. After the accident, both drivers moved their cars to the side of the rode and at that time Mrs. Christ got out of her car and began running up and down the street looking for witnesses. The police were called to the accident scene and when they attempted to talk to Mr. Schwartz, Ms. Christ continuously interrupted them, stepping in between Mr. Schwartz and the police. It was not until Ms. Christ’s husband, Jon Christ, arrived that Ms. Christ began to complain of pain in her shoulder, neck and back. Mr. Christ offered to drive Ms. Christ home, but she refused and drove herself home.

The day after the accident, Ms. Christ went to her family physician, Dr. Gregory Babikian, complaining of neck and back pain. She was prescribed muscle relaxers and physical therapy. Ignoring the recommendation of her doctor, Ms. Christ began to see a massage therapist instead. It was not until January of 2012 that Ms. Christ finally went to physical therapy. While, Ms. Christ saw some improvement, a year after the accident she was still complaining of neck pain. In June of 2012, Ms. Christ began seeing a new physician, Dr. Fahime Lessani, complaining of ongoing pain and reduced range of motion. Dr. Lessani ordered x-rays and an MRI, which showed no injury or abnormalities. Ms. Christ was referred to a rheumatologist; she only went once. Dr. Lessani prescribed more physical therapy.

Between October and August of 2013, Ms. Christ received no treatment with concern to pain and injuries from the October 2011 accident. However, in August 2013, Ms. Christ filed a lawsuit against Mr. Schwartz for negligence and Mr. Christ, in the same suit, claimed a loss of consortium. Also, in August 2013, Ms. Christ began seeing a new rheumatologist, Dr. Frank Kozin. She told Dr. Kozin in the two years since the accident, she had experienced constant pain in her neck and upper back. Dr. Kozin diagnosed her with residuals of whiplash injury that was going to be a permanent process.

On July 22, 2016, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the verdict in Morrison v. St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center, Ltd.; Joachim G. Franklin, M.D., and Emergency Medicine of Idaho, P.A. The jury in the case had found that Dr. Franklin had not failed to meet the applicable standard of health care practice in Idaho and, therefore, was not liable for the death of Mitchell Morrison.

Mitchell Morrison went to the emergency room at St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center, Ltd. (“St. Luke’s”), complaining of chest pain. Once admitted, Mr. Mitchell was seen by Dr. Joachim G. Franklin. Dr. Franklin took a history of Mr. Mitchell, conducted a thorough physical examination and ordered the appropriate tests. Based upon the results, Dr. Franklin determined that Mr. Morrison was not having a heart attack and was safe for discharge. However, Dr. Franklin did recommend that Mr. Morrison contact a cardiologist the next day to schedule an appointment and to contact his primary care physician. In fact, Dr. Franklin had the emergency department fax its documentation to Mr. Morrison’s physician the next day and the physician’s medical assistant called Mr. Morrison, leaving a message to schedule an appointment; Mr. Morrison did not call his physician back.

The next day, December 27, 2011, Barbara Morrison, Mr. Morrison’s wife, called several cardiologists attempting to schedule an appointment for her husband. The soonest appointment that Mr. Morrison could get was three weeks away. On January 11, 2012, Mr. Morrison died of a heart attack.

Etherton v. Owners Insurance Company:

On December 19, 2007, Donald Etherton was rear-ended. Mr. Etherton’s back was injured in the collision and he had to endure three back surgeries to repair the damaged disc in his spine. The other driver’s insurance settled with Mr. Etherton for $250,000, the policy limits. Because that amount did not cover all of his expenses from the accident, Mr. Etherton filed a claim with his uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage for $750,000, the remainder of his $1,000,000 policy limits.

For six months, Mr. Etherton and Owners Insurance Company (“Owners”) communicated frequently; with Owners repeatedly stating that it needed additional information to assess Mr. Etherton’s claim. On December 30, 2009, Owners offered to settle for $150,000. Owner’s noted in their explanation for such a low offer that there were serious questions of causation. Despite continued attempts to come to an agreeable settlement for both, Mr. Etherton and Owners failed to resolve the matter and Mr. Etherton initiated his suit in Colorado state court in March of 2010 for breach of contract and unreasonable delay or denial of a claim.

A suit by former players against the NCAA has been rejected by a federal judge as inadequate. The details of the case were reported by a national news report late last month. Apparently, the parties reached a $75 million settlement, but a judge rejected the settlement because he believed that it was “underfunded.”

The settlement agreement would allow a program to be implemented that would fund current and former student athletes who suffered head injuries. Additionally, the settlement would provide about $5 million towards research. The judge did not believe that the settlement amount was an adequate amount of money to cover all the medical expenses that the players required. The judge has ordered that each of the parties return to the negotiating table to reach a more appropriate agreement.

Importance of Attorneys in Settlement Negotiations

Although many individuals understand the importance of attorneys during litigation, one of the most crucial steps of a lawsuit is during the negotiation phase. When an individual believes that he or she has been injured because of the negligence of another, he or she may be able to bring a suit against that person for the injuries that were incurred and the damages that resulted. However, in many cases a trial in front of a judge or jury is not necessary.

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A Florida State University football player was reportedly let off without any serious repercussions after he was involved in a hit-and-run accident. The New York Times reported that on October 5 the football player, who was named most valuable player, drove his car into another that was being driven by an 18-year-old who was returning from a late shift at a restaurant where he was working. Apparently, the football player left the scene of the accident before the police arrived. The victim remained at the scene of the accident after suffering some injuries from the airbag deployment.

The football player did eventually return to the accident location. However, he was not tested for alcohol, nor was he asked why he fled the scene. An investigation revealed that the football player was driving on a suspended license, yet he was still only given two minor traffic tickets.

After the University and police were criticized for their actions, the police chief reported that he would “conduct an investigation to determine what happened and whether the officers acted appropriately.” What is particularly interesting in this case is that a similar situation occurred just a month or so prior to this accident, yet that defendant (who was not a prominent football player) was charged with a hit-and-run. In contrast, the police did not charge this player with a hit-and-run. They claimed the reason that he was not charged was because he returned to the accident 20 minutes later.

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Earlier this week in Jacksonville, a teenager was killed while riding his motorcycle as he was heading into work. According to a report by a local news source, the accident occurred on Labor Day on Western Boulevard.

The teen was riding down Western Boulevard when another driver who was leaving a fast-food restaurant made a turn in front of the teen, cutting him off.  The teen had no time to avoid the vehicle and collided with the car. The teen was thrown from the motorcycle and was later pronounced dead by emergency responders at the scene of the accident.

The driver of the car was cited by police for misdemeanor death by motor vehicle and unsafe movement causing serious bodily injury.

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