Plaintiff Fails to Obtain Arbitration Award in Excess of Defense Offer
On March 24, 2023, Rory Leos obtained a successful binding arbitration award in an admitted liability auto accident case. The plaintiff was a 59-year-old woman who claimed a right should injury which she alleged caused a severe right shoulder pain which was a daily constant. The accident occurred on the freeway, and it was alleged defendant did not stop after hitting plaintiff’s vehicle.
Plaintiff testified that she felt pain in her neck and shoulder immediately following the accident, as well as bruising to the chest. Plaintiff consulted with an orthopedic surgeon for right shoulder pain. Upon examination, plaintiff was diagnosed with cervical strain and right shoulder strain, and it was recommended she have a cortisone injection in her right shoulder. Plaintiff had two cortisone injections to the right shoulder. Plaintiff also completed 24 physical therapy sessions. An MRI of plaintiff’s right shoulder revealed degenerative changes (wear and tear) consistent with plaintiff’s age. The total charges for plaintiff’s medical care were $23,610.00. All of plaintiff’s medical treatment was provided on a lien basis.
At arbitration, plaintiff argued that her pain was constant and that it interfered with her sleep and her participation in various activities. Plaintiff claimed she could not raise her arm above her head.
Mr. Leos argued on behalf of the insurance carrier that plaintiff did not sustain a significant right shoulder injury as a result of the accident, other than soft tissue strains. The defendant called a board certified orthopedic doctor as his expert. The doctor opined that plaintiff’s soft tissue injuries should have resolved within 3 months. It also was argued that any ongoing pain claimed by plaintiff is the result of plaintiff’s pre-existing degenerative changes in the right shoulder and not caused by any trauma from the accident.
Plaintiff made a policy limits demand of $300,000. on December 11,2020, prior to filing suit. During the pendency of the lawsuit, defendant served a 998 Offer to Compromise for $90,000. Defendant increased his offer to $50,000 to settle prior to arbitration. Plaintiff refused.
Prior to arbitration, the parties agreed to a “high / low” of $30,000 to $300,000. After one day of arbitration, plaintiff asked for an award of $145,000. Defendant asked for an award of $30,000. The arbitrator awarded plaintiff $50,000, only slightly more than the “low” of $30,000, and the same amount defendant had offered prior to arbitration.