Robert Bellamy, 73, was stopped at a red light when another driver, Arvilla Hunter, rear-ended Bellamy’s car. He felt immediate pain in his lower back and was taken to a hospital emergency room. He was diagnosed with a sprain or strain to the muscles in his lower back and aggravation of a dormant, preexisting degenerative disk condition.
Bellamy, who had never been actively treated for a back injury before the incident, underwent more than 65 rounds of treatment and physical therapy. He continues to suffer pain, stiffness, lost range of motion, and generalized discomfort in his lower back. His past medical expenses totaled about $8,900, and his future anticipated expenses for prescription pain medication are estimated at just under $1,000. Bellamy was retired at the time of the incident.
Bellamy and his wife sued Hunter and her insurer, Allstate Insurance Co., alleging that Hunter was negligent in failing to maintain control of her vehicle and to timely stop at the red light.
For nearly five years—from the date of the incident to the start of trial—Allstate denied that Hunter was responsible. It then admitted she was at fault but contested the extent of Bellamy’s injuries. The defense argued that Bellamy’s injury had healed several months after the incident and that any back pain he suffered after that was unrelated to the collision.
The jury awarded just under $29,900, including $20,000 for past and future pain and suffering and the rest for medical expenses.
Citation: Bellamy v. Allstate Ins. Co., No. 08-CV-14027 (Wis., Milwaukee Co. Cir. Sept. 22, 2010).
Plaintiff counsel: AAJ members Peter M. Young and Benjamin S. Wagner, both of Milwaukee.
Plaintiff experts: Jessica Heller, chiropractic medicine, and Enid Trotman, internal medicine, both of Milwaukee.
Defense expert: James Flesch, orthopedic surgery, Milwaukee.