Pain and Suffering for Cervical Strain and Forearm Strain - Car Accident

In a civil action, plaintiff alleged a claim for damages for personal injuries sustained in an automobile accident that occurred on April 16, 1998. The defendants concede liability and the only issue for the court to determine is the amount of damages for pain and suffering. I conclude that the plaintiff is entitled to damages in the amount of $ 6000.00 for pain and suffering. The relevant facts are as follows: on April 16, 1998 the plaintiff was driving southbound on Legislative Avenue in Dover, Delaware and the defendant drove his car through a stop sign and struck plaintiff's vehicle on the driver's side door. At the time of the impact, the plaintiff's left arm was on the driver's side door and her right hand was on the steering wheel. Two hours after the accident the plaintiff went to the emergency room of Kent General Hospital. at the emergency room, she complained of pain in the upper left arm and pain in her neck and she was treated and released the same day. Dr. Glenn Rowe, an orthopedic surgeon, saw the plaintiff about three weeks after the accident. He concluded that the plaintiff had a cervical strain and left forearm strain and the plaintiff was sent to physical therapy and given anti-inflammatory drugs. At a second appointment in July, 1998, her neck was 100% improved and her left arm was 50% better but she had a mild case of carpal tunnel syndrome in the left wrist which was confirmed by an EMG test. The plaintiff was given a wrist splint to wear and continued with physical therapy. at a third appointment on August 24, 1998, plaintiff's left arm was 75% better and after plaintiff's fourth appointment in October, 1998, she was discharged. The plaintiff had physical therapy for about five months and although most of her symptoms were alleviated in several months, her wrist pain persisted until the spring of 1999. The defendants contend the injuries to the plaintiff were not severe and that her damages should be slightly more than a nominal award. Although the plaintiff suffered no permanent injuries, she did experience pain and suffering in her wrist for about one year and pain and suffering in her left forearm and neck for several months. Certain activities that the plaintiff could perform before the accident were also affected. She could not drive the bus at her employment because she had difficulty turning her neck. She also could not cook meals for a month after the accident and she had difficulty bathing her young child,Defendants contend that the plaintiff did not complain about her wrist in the emergency room or in her initial visit with Dr. Rowe. Additionally, it is unclear whether the plaintiff was holding the steering wheel with her left hand at the time of the accident. Although this may be true, it appears that she had no pain in her wrist prior to the accident and Dr. Rowe expressed an opinion that the carpal tunnel syndrome was caused by the accident. Additionally, he was of the opinion that the wrist injury was not caused by any prior accident. I conclude that the plaintiff was a credible witness and that her testimony is supported by the deposition of Dr. Rowe. Although the injuries she received could be characterized as mild, she is entitled to compensation for the pain and suffering that resulted from the accident. I conclude that damages should be awarded to the plaintiff in the amount of $ 6000.00.