AAC’s Chris Aitken Achieves $2 Million Settlement for Bicyclist with Rare Medical Condition
August 8, 2023
In a victory for justice, partner Chris Aitken achieved a $2 million settlement in a complex personal injury case highlighting the critical role of thorough medical investigation. The case involved the plaintiff, Tawna Nelson, a bicyclist who faced unimaginable challenges due to a rare pre-existing medical condition called erythromelalgia (EM). The incident, where a utility truck crashed into her, left her with severe injuries, leading to surgeries and intensified pain. Through meticulous legal representation, this case is a powerful reminder of the importance of understanding rare medical conditions in personal injury claims.
“We’re very proud to resolve this matter of policy limits for our client of $2 million, and to work through some very unique medical causation issues for a client that is very pleased with the result,” attorney Chris Aitken told the Daily Journal. “This is why we do what we do, to bring this kind of recovery to a client that deserves it despite a very difficult process with the insurance company,” he said.
On July 7, 2020, Tawna Nelson was cycling through La Habra Heights when her life took a dramatic turn. A utility truck failed to yield the right of way and collided with her at an intersection, leaving her with serious injuries. The police investigation identified the defendant driver as at fault for the accident, as he violated the law by failing to yield.
The consequences of the accident were devastating for Nelson. She endured severe personal injuries, including a smashed patella, cracked ribs, and the need for multiple rounds of hospitalization. However, the gravity of the situation was amplified by her pre-existing medical condition: erythromelalgia (EM). This rare vascular peripheral pain disorder causes periodic inflammation and blockage of blood vessels in the extremities, resulting in chronic pain.
Before the accident, Nelson found solace in cycling, as it helped alleviate the symptoms of her EM condition. Tragically, the accident left her with severe neuropathic pain and left leg numbness in her lower back, tailbone, sacral/buttock region, and right side, limiting her ability to bike.
During the legal battle, the plaintiff contended that the accident significantly aggravated her EM pain and required 13 surgeries, including catheter and pain pump replacements. These contentions highlighted the profound impact the accident had on her life and underscored the importance of considering the role of pre-existing medical conditions in personal injury cases.
In response, the defendant claimed that most of Nelson’s injuries were soft tissue-related, except for patellar and rib fractures. They argued that her pre-existing condition, which she had been managing since childhood, and the subsequent surgeries were unrelated to the incident.
The medical costs incurred due to this accident were substantial, amounting to $117,941 for past medical expenses. However, the comprehensive settlement of $2 million secured by Chris and the legal team demonstrates their dedication to seeking fair compensation for their client’s pain, suffering, and financial burdens.
This unique case exemplifies the significance of meticulous medical investigation and analysis in personal injury claims. Rare medical conditions like erythromelalgia can present unique challenges in accurately establishing causation and attributing injuries. In this case, the legal triumph emphasizes the need for legal professionals to go above and beyond in understanding the complexities that rare medical conditions introduce into personal injury claims.
Written on behalf of Aitken Aitken Cohn