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Bergen County, NJ

In this vehicular negligence case, the plaintiff driver, 26 years old at the time, contended that as she was attempting to enter a highway, the defendant driver – an employee of the defendant pharmaceutical company – negligently struck her in the rear. The collision was at low speed. The plaintiff maintained that, although it was initially determined that she suffered soft tissue sprains and strains to the lumbar and cervical area only, she began experiencing signs and symptoms of CRPS in the right hand within several weeks of the accident. The plaintiff contended that she developed severe CRPS over the next few months, which will cause permanent severe pain and loss of use of the right hand. The defendant denied that the condition was causally related to the low speed collision, and supported that she suffered a steady progression of an previously undiagnosed condition of dysautomnia that involves malfunctioning of the autonomic nervous system, which also was a substantial contributing factor in the need approximately six months earlier, for the plaintiff to undergo surgery for hydrocephalus.

The plaintiff’s pain management physician contended that the condition stemmed from the trauma associated with the collision. The pain management specialist maintained that although unusual, such a reaction is known to be potentially triggered by a relatively mild trauma, and that in view of the onset of signs and symptoms shortly after the collision, it was clear that the CRPS was causally related.

The defendant’s neurologist contended that in the absence of a direct trauma to the area, the condition was not causally related. The plaintiff’s expert would have countered that studies, including one from University of California, Davis, reflected that such a direct trauma is not necessary in order to have a causal connection.

The defendant also presented an expert anesthesiologist who would have testified that it was likely that the plaintiff suffered from dysautonomia, and that this malfunction of the autonomic nervous system and not the low key impact in the collision was the cause of the plaintiff’s complaints. The defendant’s expert maintained that it was coincidental that the initial signs and symptoms of the CRPS allegedly surfaced several weeks after the minor automobile accident.

The plaintiff had obtained her Associates Degree in nursing at about the time of collision, and contended that had it not been for the CRPS, she would have commenced working as an LPN. The plaintiff maintained that she will permanently be precluded from doing so. She also maintained that because of the CRPS, she will incur future costs of care, including physician visits, hospitalizations, medication, diagnostic testing, and supportive care.

The plaintiff’s proofs of economic loss, including lost income and costs of care, would have approximated $________.The case settled prior to trial for $________.

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