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Nurse Awarded Significant Settlement on Contentious Medical Damages

A teenager recklessly sped his BMW down a busy street in Thousand Oaks, California, one evening, unaware of the danger his driving put himself and other travelers in. A family traveling in their Honda Pilot was driving in the opposite direction, just a few minutes from home. Michael was driving, the kids were in the back, and Colleen, a hard-working nurse, was asleep in the passenger seat. As Michael drove through an intersection at a safe speed, a teenager in a BMW ripped a left turn in front of them, leaving Michael with no time to avoid a collision.

The crash was severe. The family’s car bounced off the initial impact site into a school parking lot, away and off the road they had been traveling down. As a result, Colleen sustained a cervical spinal injury that took her down a long and arduous road of pain management, scans, specialists, and eventually surgery.

Mark Cunningham of MCIS Lawyers, a personal injury firm, was introduced to Colleen through a friend from his professional networking group. A former Defense attorney, Mark anticipated the playbook the opposition would use against his client. He knew that the Defense would try to argue that Colleen had an unrelated preexisting condition. He knew they would claim that she was faking. And he knew they’d assert the Plaintiff was in the hands of overaggressive doctors. If they could prove any of these three arguments, it would minimize Colleen’s damages, preventing her from being awarded what she deserved.

However, the most significant obstacle for Mark was a spinal surgery Colleen sought out and paid for herself when her insurance company declined coverage. Because she was a well-respected nurse, the doctor who performed the surgery gave her a discounted (yet still substantial) rate. Mark predicted that the Defense would exploit this surgery and the relatively low amount Colleen paid for it. The Defense was going to argue that pain and suffering damages should be consistent with past bills, though there would be no guarantee that Colleen would be able to get discounted medical intervention in the future.

To counter what he was sure the Defense was going to argue, Mark secured a team of medical experts to attest to the severity of her injuries, as well as a metallurgy expert who could confirm that Colleen’s disc replacement surgery would have to be revised due to the inevitable deterioration of the metal. Also, Mark reached out to DK Global to synthesize the volume of complicated medical evidence into a slide deck with custom illustrations. He knew that showing the story of Colleen’s injuries would be much more powerful than simply trying to tell it.

The presentation began with a diagram of the collision and showed the point of rest for both cars involved. Next, the deck presented an anatomically and visually accurate 3D representation of the Plaintiff and her normal neck movement before the crash. Then, the exhibit depicted the sequence of events during the accident — Colleen, asleep in the front passenger seat, was jolted forward, causing whiplash, cervical radiculopathy, and cervical disc displacement between her C5 and C6 vertebrae. After that, the presentation outlined Colleen’s artificial disc replacement surgery, as well as future pain management and medical interventions.

As Mark prepared his arguments and visuals, the case bounced from courtroom to courtroom. While awaiting reassignment, Mark shared the slide deck with the Defense. Shortly after viewing the presentation, they approached Mark about mediation. Ultimately, they resolved the case with a substantial award that allowed Colleen to live more comfortably with her lifelong injuries.

Mark Cunningham is a partner in MCIS Lawyers, a personal injury firm with offices in Thousand Oaks and Woodland Hills. A proud ABOTA member, Mark worked as an insurance Defense lawyer for many years and leverages that experience to prosecute personal injury cases very successfully. Through more than 35 years of experience, Mark knows how the Defense works, how they evaluate cases, what works, and what doesn’t. The attorneys at MCIS are award-winning advocates who aggressively fight for compensation for those who have been seriously injured or killed due to the negligence of others.

"Extremely responsive, easy to work with, and I would not hesitate to use [DK Global] again on a serious injury case, because I think in this particular case, it changed her life."
Mark Cunningham - MCIS Lawyers
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