North Carolina Car Accidents: A Look at Thompson v. Nguyen

If you have been involved in a Carolina car accident, it is important to have a Carolina injury attorney advocating for your rights.
Thompson v. Nguyen is a recent car accident case out of Mississippi. Thompson (plaintiff) was in her vehicle stopped at a red light. Nguyen (defendant) stopped behind Thompson. While stopped at the red light, defendant reached for her purse and upon doing that her foot slipped off of the brake. Nguyen’s car then bumped into Thompson’s car causing a very minor car accident. Neither of the cars were damaged so upon trading drivers information, the parties left the scene of the accident without calling the police. Thompson later called the defendant to request that they go to the police station to get a police report for their insurance providers. Nguyen agreed and the police report was completed.

After a few days of neck pain, plaintiff went to see her doctor, Dr. James Martin (Martin). Martin was already treating plaintiff for migraines, but the plaintiff’s complaints about the neck pain were new. The MRI that was conducted on the plaintiff’s neck showed disc bulges that were a sign of a preexisting degenerative-disc disease. Martin ordered plaintiff to have a neck x-ray, an ultrasound and treatment from a physical therapist.

Plaintiff received physical therapy for two years, at which time her discomfort and pain did not stop. Plaintiff complained that she was suffering from neck pain, insomnia, depression and headaches. The physical therapist then referred plaintiff to a neurosurgeon, Dr. Kesterson (Kesterson). Upon evaluating the plaintiff, Kesterson conducted a surgery on plaintiff’s neck to treat her abnormal disks.

Plaintiff sued defendant claiming that the defendant had been negligent and this negligence caused her neck injuries. Defendant admitted that she was at fault but she argued that the minor accident could not have caused such extensive neck injuries.

The basis of most car accident cases is negligence. Negligence is used to describe a civil wrong where a person fails to act as a reasonably prudent person would in the similar circumstances. It is not a requisite that the act be intentional, only that the person be acting with recklessness or carelessness. The plaintiff in the case has the burden of proving all of the four elements of negligence by a preponderance of the evidence, which means that it is more likely than not. The four elements of negligence that the plaintiff must prove are that: the defendant had a specific duty of care; the defendant breached the duty of care required; this breach was the direct and proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries; and that there are provable damages.

When medical experts testify as to the causation of a parties injuries, they must show with reasonable medical probability that the parties symptoms were caused or aggravated by an accident caused by the defendant.

The medical experts plaintiff offered testified that the migraines and disc bulges were present before the car accident with the defendant. Also, the experts testified that because the degenerative-disc disease was preexisting the car accident had not caused the disc bulging but may have only aggravated the disease. Furthermore, the experts who testified had no knowledge of the circumstances of the accident only the medical condition.

With evidence presented that the plaintiff had been in a prior accident with a drunk driver, the defense argued that the plaintiff had failed to prove that the accident plaintiff had with the defendant caused these injuries.

Where there is insufficient proof of causation, the court asks a jury to determine the amount of damages the plaintiff is entitled to, if any. In this case a jury granted the plaintiff only the amount of physical therapy and no additional compensation.

If you have been injured contact North Carolina injury attorneys at Lee Law Offices to schedule a free appointment today. Call 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:

Thompson v. Nguyen, No. 2009-CT-01147-SCT (Miss. S.Ct. Apr. 19, 2012).

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