Merrick Brock Obtains $900,000 Verdict After Four-Day Jury Trial

Attorneys Les Brock and John Merrick obtained a $900,000 verdict in the Prince William County Circuit Court for a client who was injured in a car crash in Northern Virginia.  The plaintiff, a 47-year-old auto mechanic, was rear ended while stopped in traffic waiting to make a left turn. There was minor damage to the plaintiff’s rear bumper and the plaintiff reportedly denied any injury at the scene.  The plaintiff decided to get checked out at a local hospital where he was diagnosed with minor sprains and strains and released.  However, over the next month the pain in his lower back worsened and was radiating down into his legs.  An MRI revealed a herniated disc in his lower back (at the L5-S1 intervertebral level), and when steroid injections and physical therapy failed to relieve his symptoms his orthopedic doctor recommended a specific type of lumbar spine fusion known as an anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) with posterior instrumentation at L5-S1.

During the ALIF procedure, the front of the spine is accessed through the stomach where the herniated disc is removed and the front of the vertebrae are fused together using hardware and screws.  Then the patient is turned over and the surgeon accesses the back of the spine where additional hardware is used to fuse the back of the spine as well.  This dual approach provides greater stability, but it is a major surgery and the plaintiff was out of work for an extended period of time while he recovered and completed physical therapy.

Notably, the plaintiff had a history of back problems from before the accident, including a prior herniated disc at the same vertebral level (L5-S1) and a fractured vertebra from a prior accident when he was struck by a vehicle while riding his bicycle.  He treated for back pain on and off in the years leading up to the accident.  The liability insurance company for the defendant driver denied the claim and argued that the plaintiff’s back issues were old, chronic issues that predated the rear-end accident.

The case was set for a jury trial in the Prince William County Circuit Court.  One week before trial, the insurance company for the defendant offered to pay $250,000 to settle the case.  The offer was declined and the case went to trial.  Over the course of four days, numerous witnesses and doctors testified in the case.  The plaintiff’s family and co-workers testified that the plaintiff was in good condition leading up to the accident and was able to do his job as an auto mechanic with no issues whatsoever.  The plaintiff’s orthopedic surgeon testified that when he performed the fusion surgery the herniated disc was still soft and gel-like, indicating to him that the herniation was recent.  The defense hired two experts – a neurosurgeon and a diagnostic radiologist – who both testified that the MRI of the plaintiff’s lumbar spine showed that the disc was dark and calcified, which indicated to them that this was an old injury that would have taken years to develop and would have pre-dated the motor vehicle accident.

The jury deliberated for several hours and then returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff for $900,000 to compensate him for his injuries, his medical treatment, and his lost wages.

If you or a family member have been injured in an auto accident, call Merrick Brock.  We stand up to the insurance companies and fight back for our clients.  Some attorneys may have taken the insurance company’s settlement offer to avoid going to trial, and the insurance company was betting that we would do just that.  However, we believed in our client and our client believed in us.  We are proud to have achieved a great result for such a deserving client, and we are grateful the client placed his trust in us to get the job done.


Rule 7.2 VRPC Disclaimer: The case results depend on several factors that are unique to each case, and that the case results do not guarantee or predict the potential client may attain similar results in their particular case.

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