Woman Suffers Neck Injuries in Car Crash

Kristin Casler

Written by
— Updated on January 10, 2022

Car CrashPlaintiff is a 55-year-old woman from Maryland. She was driving her car when a vehicle traveling in the opposite direction made a left turn in front of her at a traffic light. She hit the right side of the other car. Her air bags deployed and she sustained cuts on both her hands. She had the immediate onset of neck and right upper arm pain, along with paresthesias in her right upper arm and hand. Her symptoms progressively became worse over the course of the next few weeks.

She had been involved in two previous road traffic accidents in approximately 1992 and 1999 in which she sustained neck injuries. Both times her symptoms resolved with conservative treatment. Since the third accident, she has had continued problems with decreased range of motion of her cervical spine, pain in her cervical spine, and paresthesias in her right upper arm. Numerous experts were retained, ranging from accident reconstruction specialists to traffic engineering experts. She filed a negligence action against the defendant driver in the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1.) What injuries did plaintiff sustain as a result of this accident?
  • 2.) What is plaintiff’s recovery from those injuries?
  • 3.) Is there a need for additional medical treatment and/or surgery?

Expert Witness Response

As a result of the accident, plaintiff has subjective complaints of cervical pain, decreased cervical range of motion and right upper extremity paresthesias. She had underlying cervical spondylitic disease that was aggravated by the accident. She also has developed some anxiety problems (i.e. when riding in or driving a car) since the accident. She has mostly subjective abnormalities on her examination with only minimal objective findings. In addition there is evidence of symptom magnification that raises questions about the subjective complaints and findings.

Plaintiff had some improvement in her cervical range of motion with physical therapy, but has not has any formal treatment for the past two years. Her symptoms have remained stable over the past two years. She has subjective complaints of cervical pain and right upper extremity paresthesias. She has decreased range of motion of the cervical spine secondary to underlying cervical spondylitic disease. Her complaints of pain have forced her to take frequent breaks during the day while working, but has not prevented her from doing her job.

I would recommend an EMG/NCS study and cervical spine x-rays. If the EMG/NCS shows a cervical radiculopathy, she may also need a cervical myelogram/CT scan. However, at the present time, without these additional studies I do not feel there is enough diagnostic information to recommend any surgery.

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