The defendant in a rear-end collision case was recently found not liable for injuries suffered by the plaintiff. In Firoud v. Carr, C.P. Philadelphia No. 160803547, the jury found that plaintiff was unable to prove that the defendant’s actions were causative of her injuries.
In September of 2014, plaintiff Hassania Firoud was driving in Northeast Philadelphia when her vehicle was rear-ended by an SUV while stopped in traffic. The SUV had been rear-ended by a vehicle being driven by defendant Jean Carr. Firoud sued Carr alleging that Carr was negligent and caused the SUV to be pushed into Firoud’s vehicle, which caused Firoud to suffer permanent neck and back injuries. Carr stipulated to negligence and the matter was tried solely on the issues of causation and damages.
Firourd originally treated with her family doctor and underwent five sessions of physical therapy to address her neck and back pain. Later, Firoud sought treatment with an orthopedic surgeon, who conducted an MRI and diagnosed Firoud with cervical and lumbar disc herniations as well as bilateral radiculopathy. She underwent physical therapy for ten months and completed the treatment in November 2015. Firoud also complained of headaches, anxiety, depression, and panic attacks. Firoud sought treatment with a psychologist and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder for which she underwent psychological counseling.
At trial, Firoud’s expert report from her orthopedic surgeon opined that her back and neck injuries were causally related to the accident. The orthopedic surgeon also determined that Firoud had suffered a serious impairment of functionality. Firoud’s psychological expert opined that the trauma from the accident caused her to experience stress and anxiety, which ultimately resulted in post-traumatic stress disorder. Firoud herself testified that she continued to experience back and neck pain, which caused difficulty lifting heavy objects at work as well as performing household chores. She also testified that she suffered from anxiety, which was worse when driving, and also experienced moodiness and lethargy. She sought compensation for her medical costs as well as past and future pain and suffering.
The defense countered with an expert report from a radiologist who opined that Firoud’s imaging studies showed no evidence of traumatic injury, but rather that only pre-existing degenerative changes were present. The defense counsel also relied on Firoud’s medical records which indicated that Firoud’s cervical and lumbar herniations, radiculopathy, depression, and anxiety had all pre-existed the accident. Furthermore, Firoud had been in several motor vehicle accidents in the 9 years prior to the accident at issue in the lawsuit, and had been previously diagnosed with permanent injuries from those prior accidents. Ultimately, the jury determined that Carr was not liable for Firoud’s injuries.
The salient point here, from the defense perspective, is that despite the hole in plaintiff’s claim, the facts were nevertheless put to a jury. Kudos to defense counsel for holding plaintiff to his burden. But the risk was certainly present. Thanks to Greg Herrold for his contribution to this post. Please email Brian Gibbons any questions.