Kurt D. Lloyd to speak at the American Conference Institute’s 19th Annual Advanced Forum on Obstetric Malpractice Claims
Birth Injuries or Infant Death
Our office is pleased to announce that our trial attorney Kurt D. Lloyd has been invited to speak at the American Conference Institute’s 19th Annual Advanced Forum on Obstetric Malpractice Claims on the topic:
Anatomy of a Modern Malpractice Trial: Exploring New Litigation Techniques and Evidentiary Questions in Light of Rising Verdicts and Backlog due to COVID-19.
Virtual. Philadelphia, PA
Monday, November 9, 2020
10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Kurt D. Lloyd is of counsel to Grazian & Volpe and has successfully handled many medical malpractice cases in the labor and delivery field, shoulder dystocia, brain damage, and neonatal wrongful death. If your child has been a victim of an obstetrical negligence, contact our office.
In the last Blog, we considered the scenario in which a rear-end collision triggered spinal pain and disability because, through the natural aging process, as our spines develop degenerative disc disease (“DDD”), our spines become more susceptible to injury after an impact (read more about degenerative disc disease/DDD here).
In this Blog, we discuss a different scenario: you already have a pre-existing back condition that is well-managed and you are enjoying life, but suddenly a rear-end impact aggravates your back condition causing it to become unbearable. Do you have a personal injury case? Absolutely!
The attorneys at the law firm of Grazian & Volpe have handled hundreds of auto crash cases and understand the medicine and law dealing with the aggravation of pre-existing injuries. In this Blog, which is part of a series on spinal injuries caused by rear-end auto accidents, we shall use a typical case of an aggravation of a pre-existing injury and explain how such a case is handled.
Aggravation of Pre-Existing Condition
Take the case of a 50-year-old man who goes to his doctor complaining of low back pain, gets an MRI performed, and is diagnosed with a bulging disc. He has occasional pain and discomfort from his bulging disc, but he learns to manage it through physical exercise and maintaining his health to keep his disc from further deteriorating. In other words, he is doing nothing that would, of itself, aggravate, i.e. worsen, his bulging disc. Altogether, his condition is stable and requires neither medication nor surgery.
Enter a negligent 20-something-year-old driver who rear-ends the 50-year-old man at a stop sign while texting a friend. The man now complains of excruciating pain associated with the same bulging disc. His doctor orders another MRI, but the man’s disc appears the same: it hasn’t herniated. Nonetheless, the man still complains of experiencing more pain after the accident than before and he can sit for only half the time that he used to be able to. So, his doctor prescribes him prescription anti-inflammatories and physical therapy and advises he take off work to rest in bed. What happens now?
The Eggshell Plaintiff Rule
In Illinois personal injury law, there is what is called the “Eggshell Plaintiff” rule. The “Eggshell Plaintiff” rule basically means that the defendant, or negligent driver, must take the injured plaintiff as he or she is found. Basically, whatever state the injured plaintiff was in at the time of the accident—that is the state to which he should be returned by means of compensation.
In the case of our 50-year-old man, the law says that he should to be compensated for the aggravation or worsening or his bulging disc. Because the man cannot be physically returned to his pre-accident status, the law provides the monetary compensation for aggravating effect of the collision.
Proving Aggravation of a Pre-Existing Condition
Juries are notorious for having difficulty deciding cases that involve an aggravation of a pre-existing condition. Why? The trial attorney for the injured plaintiff may be inexperienced or unskilled in how to communicate your situation coherently, and there’s nothing worse for your case than a confused jury.
When presenting your case to the jury, your attorneys should strain to make the jury’s deliberations as easy as possible. This means lining up evidence that makes it easy for the jury to gauge the aggravation of your pre-existing injury and to put a value on your pain and suffering.
Every case is different, though, which is to say that the evidence needed or available to prove an aggravation of a pre-existing condition will be different in each case. Prior and post medical records are extremely important: the prior will establish your “baseline,” while the post will demonstrate what aggravation resulted from the accident. Employment records can also be helpful if they show a change in occupation or position that can be tied to the aggravation. An impartial “injury witness” also goes a long way to convincing a jury of the aggravation, particularly when this disinterested witness can attest to your health and activity before and after the accident. Finally, if you participated in hobbies or activities that you had to give up on account of the aggravation, this also is helpful evidence.
Cases involving the aggravation of a pre-existing condition are not the easiest to win. Insurance or defense attorneys know that a lot of discovery work must go into such cases, and oftentimes expert medical witnesses must be called. This tends to add up quickly, subtracts from your ultimate compensation, and discourages some personal injury attorneys from taking such cases.
Nevertheless, all cases are different and you should definitely seek a free consultation before dismissing the possibility of a lawsuit to recover for your aggravation. Only an experienced injury attorney can give you a sense of the strength of your case. Don’t wait: call attorney Kurt D. Lloyd of Grazian & Volpe today at 773.838.8100, or fill out our online form for a free consultation.
In a rear-end auto crash, the impact often results in injury to the cervical or lumbar spine. As we each grow older, the impact can cause much more immediate signs and symptoms of a spinal injury, because as we age a normal underlying condition known as Degenerative Disc Disease (“DDD”) can act as a set-up for a spinal injury.
DDD is a natural result of aging: we all have it to greater or lesser extent. But as our spines age normally the majority of us do not experience any pain or limitation from DDD. We remain asymptomatic. Although insurance companies and their defense lawyers know this is a normal phenomenon, they will likely mount a rigorous “Triple-D” defense as the cause of a rear-end accident victim’s pain and disability. That is, defense lawyers will blame normal aging of the spine as the cause of your injuries.
Some personal injury firms might take the bait and make a quick settlement based on the Triple-D defense, but the attorneys at Grazian & Volpe have encountered this misleading defense many times before, and know it can be overcome to get you the full settlement you deserve.
The attorneys at the law firm of Grazian & Volpe have handled hundreds of auto crash cases and understand the medicine related to Degenerative Disc Disease. In this Blog, which is part of a series on spinal injuries caused by auto accidents, we shall explain what DDD is, how it is diagnosed, and what is done to treat a it.
Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD)
Degenerative Disc Disease is a natural consequence of aging. Everyone experiences DDD to a greater or lesser degree during their life. As the discs between the vertebrae in the spine age and become dehydrated and “flattened,” DDD occurs.
The human spine is made up of a column of vertebrae with jelly-like, fluid-filled discs in between them. hese discs act as the shock absorbers during everyday activities and facilitate flexibility. Our spinal discs are made up of two parts: the outer, fibrous part known as the annulus or annular ring; and the inner part, which is a jelly-like nucleus that absorbs shocks to the spine.
When we’re born, these discs are comprised of 80% water. However, as we age, the water content naturally decreases and the discs generally deteriorate with the passing years of wear and tear. The areas of the spine most susceptible to disc degeneration are the cervical spine (neck) and the lumbar spine (lower back) because these areas undergo the most motion and stress from everyday living.
What the degeneration of these discs means is that your body goes from having Krispy Kreme donut-like cushions between your vertebrae to cushions more like Swedish pancakes, with little shock absorption and suppleness.
But the most important thing to remember is that this doesn’t mean you automatically “feel” it as your spine ages. You can live into your 80s without experiencing any pain related to the degeneration of your discs, because DDD is usually asymptomatic. That is, until a rear-end auto collision occurs.
This is all to state the obvious: a 30-year-old body and a 60-year-old body will respond to the trauma of a rear-end collision differently. The 30-year-old might get up and skip away, while the 60-year-old can barely turn his neck. While the insurance lawyers launch into their “Triple-D” defense, arguing that your neck pain is just the result of a pre-existing DDD, the truth is that a car accident can activate or trigger DDD symptoms that would likely never have developed in the absence of the trauma.
Diagnosis of DDD
Importantly, the trauma of the auto accident is the likely the cause of neck or back pain and disability, and not the pre-existing DDD in your spine which was asymptomatic before the trauma from the auto crash occurred. Therefore, the only certain way to learn of the condition of your discs is to be diagnosed by a medical professional.
A medical professional will take your medical history and perform a physical examination, checking for abnormalities, reflexes, and range of motion. But to diagnose DDD in the spine, a physician should order an MRI scan of the spinal area involved.
Long Term Treatment of DDD
In patients who have silent, underlying DDD, but then suffer spinal trauma in an auto accident causing pain, many long treatments are available. Long-term treatments in trauma patients who also have DDD target reducing the related neck or back pain through pain management, physical therapy, and lifestyle modification. Pain management might include heat or ice treatments and pain medications. Physical therapy might include stretching to improve flexibility, strengthening exercises to improve stability, and/or aerobic exercises to maintain healthy circulation. Some lifestyle modification might include avoiding nicotine and excess alcohol, using ergonomic furniture, and incorporating more movement into your daily routine.
The good news about car accident trauma patients who also have DDD is that, while the discs naturally degenerate, the pain triggered or exacerbated by spinal degeneration will actually feel better with time and proper treatment.
If you suffer from neck or low back pain due to someone’s negligence, getting an accurate diagnosis of your injuries is crucial. It is important to be informed and to utilize qualified medical professionals and experienced personal injury lawyers to help you fully recover. Call attorney Kurt D. Lloyd of Grazian & Volpe today at 773.838.8100, or fill out our online form for a free consultation.
In a rear-end auto collision, spinal injuries of the neck and back often occur. A traumatic facet joint injury to the spine as a result of a rear-end auto crash is a common injury. Facet joint injuries are an “invisible” injury. A traumatic facet joint injury is usually not seen on X-rays and MRI imaging studies.
The attorneys at the law firm of Grazian & Volpe have handled hundreds of auto crash cases and understand the medicine related to a facet joint injury in the spine. In this Blog, which is part of a series on spinal injuries caused by auto accidents, we shall explain what a facet joint injury is, how a facet joint injury is diagnosed, and what is done to treat a facet joint injury.
The facet joints help stabilize our spine, holding the spinal column in place and preventing excessive rotation (twisting) and flexion or extension (bending) of the spine.
Facet joints also prevent rotation of the vertebral column to a great degree. In addition, facet joints are necessary to prevent spondylolisthesis, which is forward slippage of one vertebra upon another. When this injury happens, the spinal canal gets compromised and there can be problems with pinching of the spinal cord.
Traumatic Injury to the Facet Joints
In an auto collision, the sudden impact can produce mechanical forces to the body that cause violent flexion-extension (“whiplash”) of the cervical spine or neck. See Image No. 1 below. This is also medically known as cervical acceleration-deceleration syndrome. This sudden force is transferred to the facet joints which attempt to maintain stability of the spinal vertebrae during whiplash by preventing the spine from excessively bending forward or backward. However, the facet joint can be abruptly injured by dislocation of the joint or from tearing or inflammation to the cartilage in the facet joint.
Signs and Symptoms of Facet Joint Injuries
- Acute onset of neck, mid or low back or pain.
- Palpable tenderness directly over the facet joints and reduced range of motion and muscle spasms.
- In the neck, pain increases when extending backward and improves when flexing forward.
- In the low back, pain can radiate or extend from the back to the buttocks; pain is present when standing but increases with sitting.
- In the neck, the pain can radiate or extend from the neck onto the top of shoulders and upper shoulder blades.
- The pain and restricted motion are recurrent and ongoing.
Diagnosis of Facet Joint Injuries
A CT-scan at the spinal level involved is the imaging study of choice for a clinically suspected facet joint injury. However, a CT-scan is only sensitive for diagnosis of damage to the facet joint fifty percent (50%) of the time.
The best diagnostic method for facet joint injuries is a medial branch block procedure. The medial branch nerves supply sensation and enervation to the facet joints. During a medial branch block procedure, an anesthetic is injected in the spine near the small medial nerves connected to a specific facet joint.¹
If the facet joint or joints targeted in the block procedure are causing the pain, then a patient will obtain relief from the medial branch nerve block; and if the facet joint is not causing the pain, then a patient will not obtain pain relief. This is what makes the procedure diagnostic for facet joint injuries. See Image No. 2 below.
Usually, a medial branch block is performed on two different dates, months apart, to confirm the diagnosis.
¹ Cohen SP, Moon JY, Brummett CM, White RL, Larkin TM. Medial Branch Blocks or Intra-Articular Injections as a Prognostic Tool Before Lumbar Facet Radiofrequency Denervation. Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine. 2015;40(4):376-383.
Long Term Treatment of Facet Joint Injuries
A procedure known as radiofrequency ablation (“RFA”) is used to treat a facet joint injury and obtain long term relief. An RFA is a minimally invasive procedure that reorganizes and modulates the nerve fibers carrying pain signals to the brain. In a radiofrequency ablation procedure, also called a rhizotomy, a probe is placed in the spine under x-ray guidance, and heat wave energy is delivered to the affected nerves. The waves “ablate,” or burn, the nerves that are causing the pain, thereby stopping pain signals from traveling along the nerves to the brain.
If you have suffered from back or neck pain due to someone’s negligence, getting an accurate diagnosis of your injuries is crucial. It is important to be informed and to utilize qualified medical professionals and experienced personal injury lawyers to help you fully recover. Call attorney Kurt D. Lloyd at Grazian & Volpe today at 773.838.8100, or fill out our online form for a free consultation.
In rear-end auto crashes, spinal injuries of the neck and back often occur. A herniated disc of the spine from a rear-end auto crash is a common injury. But a herniated disc injury is usually not diagnosed by your physician for many months, despite ongoing pain, numbness and tingling in your neck, back, arms or legs.
The attorneys at the law firm of Grazian & Volpe have handled hundreds of auto crash cases and understand the medicine related to a herniated disc injury. In this Blog—the first in a series on spinal injuries caused by auto accidents—we shall explain what a herniated disc injury is and how a herniated disc injury is eventually diagnosed.
A new, acute herniated disc in the spine is usually not seen on imaging studies immediately after a rear-end auto collision. In fact, the diagnostic features of a herniated disc which are found on a magnetic resonance imaging study (“MRI”) actually take time to develop in the spine before the MRI will be positive.
This phenomenon holds true even though you may have symptoms consistent with a herniated disc injury in the hospital Emergency Department immediately after an auto collision. Indeed, in the Emergency Department immediately after the car crash, the X-rays of the neck or back are usually negative, even though an MRI study of spine turns out positive for an acute herniated disc several months later.
Our attorneys understand the biomechanical processes that cause a herniated disc. In a rear-end car crash, the mechanical forces acting on your body can result in an abnormal flexion-extension of your spine. When this happens, one of the spinal discs between two of your vertebra can become herniated, that is, the impact forced “disc material beyond the limits of the intervertebral disc space.”* Our spinal discs are made up of two parts: the outer, fibrous part known as the annulus or annular ring; and the inner part, which is a jelly-like nucleus that absorbs shocks to the spine. Think of your discs as if they were jelly donuts which act as the shock absorbers of your spine.
When a herniated disc occurs, what happens is that the mechanical forces from the rear-end car impact tear the annulus (the outer wall of the donut) and some of the jelly-like nucleus pushes or extrudes into vertebral space. The resulting disc protrusion often irritates a nearby spinal nerve causing signs and symptoms of numbness, tingling, discomfort and pain.
The MRI study of the cervical, thoracic or lumbar spine performed at the right time can be the gold standard for diagnosing an acute herniated disc ninety-two percent (92%) of the time. An MRI study involves radio waves, a magnetic field and a computer to create image of the spine and surrounding tissues. Our attorneys know how to read and review MRI images from a legal point of view. If your attorney does not understand how an MRI is read and interpreted, then you can lose your case.
Winning your case starts and stops with understanding the MRI results; what demonstrates an acute disc injury versus a chronic disc disease. A bright signal or “lucency” found on the T2 weighted images of disc on the MRI study proves relative acuteness from a rear-end auto collision. In older patients who have suffered from a rear-end auto injury, the presence of this bright signal can prove a new disc injury which is superimposed over a naturally aging spine. What the defense attorneys and defense experts like to do is call it degenerative disc disease of the spinal discs and blame that as the cause of numbness, tingling, discomfort and pain after a car crash, even though you were asymptomatic for a disc injury before the impact.
That’s why you need a good attorney.
At Grazian & Volpe, our years of experience spine injuries have given us the knowledge and skills to help our clients win their cases and recover the money they need to get on with their lives. After an auto accident, if you have low back pain, neck pain, or numbness, tingling in your arms, hands, legs or feet then you may a herniated disc or other disc injury. Call us at 773.838.8100, email us at Attorney@GrazianVolpe.com or fill out our online contact form for a free consultation. We can help you.
* Fardon, D., “Lumbar Disc Nomenclature: Version 2.0Recommendations of the Combined Task Forces of the North American Spine Society, the American Society of Spine Radiology, and the American Society of Neuroradiology,” Spine: November 15, 2014 – Volume 39 – Issue 24 – p E1448-E1465.
When litigating car accident lawsuits, we have always found that women seem to consistently sustain more serious injuries than males. Predominantly, back and brain injuries. We began to wonder if this was just the experience of Grazian and Volpe or if it was a statistical fact.
We began to do some research and came upon a study done by the University of Virginia in October of 2011. Interested readers can access the full report at
Researchers reviewed information on 45,445 crash victims gathered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over 11 years. Compared with male drivers studied, women were 5 1/2 inches shorter and 35 pounds lighter; fewer were overweight; and more were driving passengers cars at the time of the crash(carpools, ferrying children and elderly parents and family members). After controlling for these factors and others, the study found that women were 47 percent more likely to suffer severe injuries, most notably brain and spinal injuries.
The study concludes that females are more susceptible to brain injury and spinal injury because of differences in neck strength and musculature. In addition, the positioning of head restraints and seating positions are not configured for the shorter female stature. The study posited that car safety devices have been designed with a male template and car manufacturers may need to consider designing safety features which can accommodate gender differences.
Dipan Bose, lead author of the study cautions female drivers “ensure that their safety systems perform optimally, including maintaining a good belt fit and correct seating posture.”
We have not seen any accommodations made by car manufacturers so it seems incumbent upon female drivers to take it upon themselves to provide for a more secure interior driving environment by assuring their necks and backs are secure and well-supported and their seat belts fit firmly.
Remember, it is always better to stay safe and avoid an accident and a lawyer. But if you can’t stay safe, stay with Grazian and Volpe, Chicago’s experienced car accident attorneys for over 30 years.
There are two questions that are very important in analyzing the monetary value of personal injuries suffered in any type of accident. The questions are as follows:
1) Is there any liability for the accident meaning can fault be attributed to another party and can that party be sued? and;
2) Were injuries suffered and are those injuries of a serious enough nature to warrant the emotional and financial cost of pursuing compensation through the legal system?
The answer to the first question depends on whether their exists a person or entity that caused the accident or was responsible for preventing the circumstances causing the accident. For example, was the driver of a car texting on her phone which caused her to hit another driver or pedestrian or; did the landlord fail to provide adequate lighting or comply with the building code in such a manner has to cause a person to fall and sustain an injury? Liability can be a complex subject and will always require the scrutiny of an experienced personal injury lawyer to determine whether there exists sufficient liability to proceed with a personal injury lawsuit.
The answer to the second question as to whether there had been a injury directly attributable to the slip and fall or any accident depends on the seriousness of the injury and whether the person injured suffered the injury as a direct result of the accident or whether the injury existed before the accident. For example, a person who has been treated for back pain in the years before an accident will have a difficult time proving that their back pain was caused by a recent accident. Again, these issues demand a careful evaluation by a qualified and experienced personal injury attorney.
However, one thing is definitive. If the injury was not serious enough to demand medical attention it is not serious enough to warrant compensation. It is almost impossible for the most experienced personal injury attorney to prove you are entitled to compensation for personal injuries when there is no proof of a personal injury. This proof may only be provided by a medical professional. Grazian and Volpe has served injury victims in Chicago for over 30 years obtaining verdicts in the thousands and millions. It is always disheartening to explain to a person suffering from injury that we cannot take their case because they did not seek medical attention. Going to a doctor or hospital days or weeks later calls into question whether the injury was actually caused by the accident or slip and fall and/or seriousness enough to warrant the monetary and emotional drain required to pursue a personal injury lawsuit. We will always attempt to do what we can to make recovery possible for any client where it is justified but insurance companies are always on the prowl for reasons not to compensate an injured party. It is important that anyone suffering personal injury in any accident attempt to document the accident and accident site through any means available, i.e., witnesses, photos, and police reports. It is of utmost important that immediate medical attention is sought. Obviously that is easy in the case of broken bones and other serious injuries. However injury victims need to know that brain, neck and back injuries may not be obvious and it is better to error on the side of caution and obtain immediate medical attention. It may mean the difference between recovering and not recovering money damages for personal injuries suffered.
Every personal injury attorney knows how difficult is is to hold any government, whether local, state or federal in a personal injury lawsuit. Even if a plaintiff is able to survive the immunity defenses the difficulty in proving the standard of negligence often leaves a very seriously injured plaintiff with no recourse and no reward. A recent New York jury awarded a 13 year old boy approximately $6.78 million after the youth suffered a degloving injury to his right lower leg and fractures to his fibula and heel bone. The boy underwent numerous surgeries and required several months of exhausting and painful rehabilitation.
According to the court records, the boy was running alongside the bus before it began to move and hit the side of the bus to alert the driver of his presence. As he approached the bus’ middle wheels, he tripped and his legs fell under the bus. The bus began moving and rolled over his legs resulting in his serious injuries.
The jury found the Transit Authority negligent in that the bus driver failed to note that the boy was near the bus and negligently moved the bus when the boy was in the zone of danger.
As Chicago Personal Injury Attorneys of over 25 years, we have handled numerous causes of action against private and public bus services (see myaccidentlaw.com/blog articles categorized “bus accidents”). As Chicago residents of equal time, we have noted on many occasions the reckless and negligent driving habits of some (not all) bus drivers for the CTA and the private bus companies. We have also noted that private bus services have fewer defenses to their negligence than public bus drivers and this leads to a disturbing increase in the serious personal injuries suffered by pedestrians, persons in cars or on bicycles and bus riders involved in bus accidents with publicly run bus services. We applaud the jury in New York and believe holding drivers and municipalities culpable for reckless and negligent bus operation inures to the benefit of the public as a whole.
Grazian and Volpe has studied this lawsuit closely and hopes to successfully employ the concepts of liability established in the case for the benefit of our clients who are victims of bus accidents as well as for the furtherance of safe and responsible bus operation.
Chicago winter is upon us and your personal injury attorneys at Grazian and Volpe would prefer you not be one of the thousands of victims of winter related car accidents. One of the best ways to avoid motor vehicle winters in the long and icy Chicago clime is to make sure your vehicle is winter ready. Winter ready not only includes good snow or all weather tires but also making sure you can see while driving and can remove icy or snowy accumulations from lights and windows.
Grazian and Volpe appreciates your business but would prefer that our clients stay safe. Consider the following steps to assure your car is cold, wet and winter ready:
- Make a visual inspection of your vehicle lights: make sure front, rear and hazard lights are operating at properly and at full power
- Check the spray nozzles of your windshield-washer system to make sure they are not clogged by debris or wax
- Before you embark on any trip, make sure you have gas and windshield wiper fluid. A gas tank that is at least half full will reduce condensation in you tank and fuel system and your vehicle will be easier to start when cold.
- Change your wiper fluid to a brand made especially for freezing conditions and purchase winter wiper blades which are designed to cut through ice and snow
- Check your heater, defroster and rear-window defroster before you need them
- Carry emergency equipment in your vehicle including a snow/ice scraper, a flashlight, a fresh supply of batteries, flares, a shovel, first-aid kit, blankets and your cell phone and a car charger. Extra clothes and snacks and bottled water will be very helpful in the event you are stuck on the road for hours. (Remember the Chicago snowstorm of 2010 when drivers were stuck on Lake Shore Drive for 10 plus hours?)
- Please, please, please clear the snow and ice off your care before driving-windows, roof, hood, mirrors and lights. In the last 25 years, we have had more than just a few cases where car accidents occurred because the driver was blinded by snow blowing off his own hood!
There is nothing more tragic then serious personal injuries caused by an accident that could have been avoided by a few simple safety steps and precautions.
Remember, it is better to stay safe but if you can’t stay safe-stay with Grazian and Volpe, your Chicago and South Chicago Car Accident Lawyers for over 25 years.
Please follow us on WCIU, You and Me in the Morning (the first Tuesday of every month) or at myaccidentlaw.com/blog where we answer your questions and provide information to stay safe and protect your rights.