This post is one in a series of personal injury legal stories, told by the people who were hurt. These personal injury stories come from people from all over the United States who suffered personal injuries and tried to do something about it.
These writers were not clients of our firm, Butler Tobin. Some of the writers hired lawyers, and some did not. Of those who hired lawyers, some had good experiences, and some had bad ones. We’re presenting these personal, personal injury stories just as the authors wrote them, without judgment or comment.
Here is one person’s story.
Personal Injury Story: Neck Hurt in Car Accident
The Car Accident
It was December 17, 1999 and I was visiting my hometown, New York City.
I stopped by a restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen, only three blocks from Times Square, where I used to DJ, to see if he needed me for his New Year’s Eve party, when I ran into a couple of buddies who needed a ride further downtown to get some party supplies. I really didn’t want to go, but they said they’d throw me a couple of bucks. It turned-out not to have been worth it.
After stalling with the hope that they would change their minds, we headed out in the 1987 Pontiac 6000 sedan, which was a temporary “hooptie” I bought from my uncle, when my cherished ‘’87 Mustang fastback died at the old age of 270,000 miles a month earlier. This was not my preferred type of car, as it had a “bench” seat in the front and the headrest angle was towards the rear, as opposed to being snugger to one’s shoulders and neck on the driver’s side like the “bucket seats” I prefer.
Our conversation was lively as we cruised down Eighth Avenue and made a left, to travel east onto 21st Street. We were heading to another bar/restaurant on the corner of Sixth Avenue. Caught at the stoplight at 21st and Sixth, we waited as I had done a million times before, when suddenly, without any warning such as screeching of tires or horn-blowing, “WHAM!” I was hit from behind. The force was so hard that the taxi pushed me past the stop line and crosswalk, a quarter of the way into the intersection. In those initial moments following the impact, it seemed like time stood still in disbelief.
Injuries from the Car Accident
Just at the thought of it, the back of my neck becomes sore as I write this.
I was livid with the driver of the yellow taxi as I ranted at him on the northeast corner of the intersection where we pulled over to. He was apparently an African man, new to this country, and he stayed inside his car, driver window down and not even acknowledging me by looking at me, despite my exultations for him to “step out!”. I was adrenalin-rush angry. My two passengers had disappeared by now; a great show of “loyalty”.
Very soon NYPD arrived, and a short lady officer approached me to calm me down while they made their report. This report would be key to my case, as the officers had apparently witnessed the incident as they sat nearby in their squad car.
If I remember correctly, I drove back to south Jersey that night, as I was on my way out of town anyway; a two-hour drive. The next morning, back at my flat, I could not open my mouth to even feed myself! I had “lockjaw”! Was I now like the lead character of one of my favorite old black & white horror movies, “Mr. Sardonicus”?
I had lived in Somers Point for eight years at that point, been treated for my right Achilles Tendon rupture four years earlier and was familiar with nearby Shore Memorial Hospital. I had no medical insurance, but remembered how charity care helped me with that repair bill, therefore I felt comfortable going to their Emergency Room that morning.
Initial X-rays were troubling to the doctor. I noticed him reviewing them several times with a nurse assistant. At one point, he approached me to show the x-ray, indicating a point on it that looked like a fracture of my neck vertebrae around “number 7”. They x-rayed me again and became satisfied that what they previously saw was some kind of “shadow”, enough to release me.
This is when I first became intimate with a cervical neck collar, because they gave me one on my way out from the ER that day. I still use it if I get flashback stiffness. (I applied to get those medical records for this article, but they did not arrive in-time.)
My injuries were diagnosed as, “Cervical disc herniations at C5-6 and C6-7 as well as spur formation at C4-5 confirmed by MRI and left C6 radiculopathy confirmed by EMG. Cervical Strain/Sprain – right occipital headaches. Throat pain when swallowing. Right shoulder pain. Jaw pain – TMJ. Cut left ring finger – minor cut.”
During the ensuing weeks of Physical Therapy, I became familiar with terminologies like Corporal Tunnel Syndrome, traction, electro “stim”, ultra sound, and Degenerative Disc Disease (which I hope never happens). A specialist who examined me for Corporal Tunnel Syndrome, hinted that this accident could affect me in the future. Indeed, my neck sometimes ceases-up to the point that I cannot turn my head to look over my shoulder. Chiropractors usually help.
Car Accident Settlement
In early 2000, I accepted an on-air radio DJ job in Nashville, TN, where I quickly became the favorite of management. The taxi representatives finally agreed to settle in September 2001, twenty-one months later, and I signed a release for $25,000. Two months hence, I was granted a few days off to fly back up to meet my Atlantic City counsel at Cooper Perskie April Niedelman Wagenheim and Levenson and receive the check for just over $10,000.
I went straight to the bank that it was drawn on and received the cash in a big brown envelope. Then, I was allowed to count it, right then and there, in a private room at the bank! I felt so great!