Florida, Fla. (February 26th, 2013) — Attorney David C. Prather of Florida, Fla.-based Clark, Fountain, La Vista, Littky-Rubin & Whitman, successfully earned a $400,000 verdict against Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist carrier, GEICO General Insurance Company, after it refused to pay the plaintiff’s damages for her injuries in lieu of medical costs after two car accidents involving uninsured motorists.
GEICO had claimed that the plaintiff, 24 year-old Sondra Thrasher of Jupiter, sustained no permanent or serious injuries from either accident. GEICO’s highest settlement offer was $40,000. Attorneys Prather and Niakan argued that the accidents permanently aggravated pre-existing conditions Thrasher had suffered in her neck and back.
Thrasher’s documented neck and back pain began two and a half years before her car was rear-ended in a chain reaction crash March 2006. Further, Thrasher had been involved in two prior automobile accidents, one as recently as six weeks before the March 2006 accident. Thrasher was injured again in February 2008 when her car T-Boned another vehicle in an unrelated crash. In each case GEICO admitted the other drivers, both of whom were uninsured, were at fault.
Thrasher underwent a discogram and percutaneous discectomy in June 2007 with an orthopedic specialist and an anesthesiologist, and received two lumbar spine epidural steroid injections. According to her neurosurgeon, Charles Theofolis, she was a candidate for IDET lumbar spine surgery and facet blocks to her cervical spine. However, after becoming pregnant she could not undergo the procedures and did not seek medical treatment for her accident-related injuries during the two years preceding trial.
Thrasher dreamed of becoming a nature photographer while studying at the Dreyfoos School of the Arts in Florida, and was awarded a scholarship to the highly prestigious Art Institute of Boston’s photography program. However, her injuries made it impossible for her to continue, and she had to withdraw from college and abandon her scholarship.
GEICO hired several medical experts: orthopedic surgeon, Michael Zeide; neurosurgeon, Jordan Grabel; radiologist, Jeffrey Livingston; and orthopedic surgeon, Lawrence Gorfine, to testify Thrasher suffered only minor sprains and strains in each accident and sustained no permanent injuries. Thrasher did not pursue a loss of earnings claim as she continued to remain employed.
The jury sided with Thrasher after deliberating for five hours, awarding her $90,000 for past and future medical expenses. They also determined that February 2008 accident permanently aggravated her pre-existing conditions, and awarded $310,000 for past and future pain, suffering, mental anguish and the loss of enjoyment of life.
“Ms. Thrasher struggled so much to cope with the pain that it ultimately became so unbearable she had to give up her life’s ambition of becoming a world-class photographer,” said Prather, “We hope this verdict will allow this talented young woman to get the ongoing care she needs.”