Car Accident With Spinal Injuries


In 2004, a car crash occurred involving a woman in her 30s. She was riding as a passenger in a Ford Explorer in Bartholomew County when a pizza delivery person ran a stop sign and T-boned the car. The Explorer rolled over and landed on its top. The woman, who was seat-belted in at the time of the car crash, was hanging in the car upside down.

Her husband was a fireman and managed to extricate her from the vehicle. From the time of the car accident, medical issues appeared. She had some significant headache and neck pain. As time went on, her condition worsened and the headaches became worse and more frequent. Her neck pain increased, and she also began having a great deal of difficulty with her jaw (TMJ). Her jaw would literally lock, making it difficult to talk, work, or eat.

Subsequently, doctors discovered a herniated disk in the neck, which was repaired with a plate and screws. The jaw injury required surgery to replace both TMJ joints. The surgery was helpful to some degree, but the client continued (and continues to this day) to have times when her jaw would just lock up.

Her lower back began to hurt, and a pain doctor was consulted to assist for that pain. However, she will likely need to have additional surgeries on her lower back at some point.


The client sought the services of Columbus, Indiana, accident attorney Woody Harrison. This personal injury case was litigated over the course of three years - from 2004 until the verdict in 2007. At her trial, the law office for which she worked as a paralegal testified that, for every hour she worked during the day, it was necessary for her to lie on her back on the floor for an equal amount of time with her legs up on a chair to try to get relief from the ongoing pain.

TMJ specialists asserted that, though she had had surgery, there were permanent injuries that result in the jaw locking up on occasion. Since the car crash, the client ended up retiring from her job; she has never been able to work since.

This case included an insurance claim problem against two companies. The pizza delivery car was only insured for the minimum $50,000 so the actual suit was filed against her own insurance company under the underinsured motorist carrier. From 2004 until her verdict, the client was seen and treated by her family physician, a neurosurgeon, a pain doctor, TMJ specialists, an oral surgeon who specializes in TMJ, and a chiropractor.


This case went before a jury trial. The jury returned a $2.6 million verdict, the largest verdict ever awarded in Bartholomew County. In addition, there was an additional insurance claim problem. The client filed a bad faith claim in that she alleged that the insurance company, in negotiating and handling her case, had not dealt with her in good faith. She also sought and received additional money for this bad faith claim.

Personal injury lawyer Woody Harrison was also successful in obtaining Social Security benefits, as well as Social Security disability benefits for this client.