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Ashenhurst v. Nicholson, et al.

Plaintiff suffers tinnitus from accident

PERSONAL INJURY: $95,000 Settlement

Case name: Ashenhurst v. Nicholson, et al.

Court/Judge: Milwaukee County Circuit Court, Judge Maxine White

Settlement amount: $95,000, settled prior to trial

Date of incident: Aug. 27, 2007

Original filing date: Jan. 14, 2010

Disposition date: July 12, 2010

Insurance: State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company

Injuries claimed: As a result of the accident the plaintiff suffered neck pain, whiplash and tinnitus. Her past medical expenses were $9,157.53. Her only permanent injury as a result of the accident is tinnitus. She suffers tinnitus in both ears, with more pronounced and higher pitched ringing in the left ear. The tinnitus is present 24 hours a day. Plaintiff also has permanent audio discernment problems meaning as a result of the accident she has trouble processing conversations in large settings where there may be more than one speaker. Plaintiff also experiences pain from high pitched noises such as screams and sirens. Future medical expenses were limited due to the nature of the injury. A $5,500.00 expense for neuromonic treatment was sought as future damages.

Original amount sought: $100,000 policy limits

Original offer: $95,000

Plaintiff’s attorneys: Jonathan P. Groth, Groth Law Firm, S.C., Brookfield

Defendant’s attorneys: Richard T. Mueller, Mueller, Goss & Possi, S.C., Milwaukee

Plaintiffs expert witnesses: Dr. David R. Friedland, M.D. Ph.D.

Plaintiff counsel's summary of the facts: Plaintiff was rear-ended by the defendant while traveling on Interstate 894 in the City of Milwaukee. The Defendant admitted to the police that he may have “dozed off.” The collision totaled the Plaintiff’s vehicle. The following day the Plaintiff sought treatment for upper back and neck pain. Within a week her treating doctors noted “some new tinnitus.” Thereafter she was prescribed physical therapy and underwent a battery of diagnostic tests. The neck and back pain subsided leaving only the constant tinnitus symptoms. The plaintiff works in a professional setting, attending meetings and conferences on a regular basis. The tinnitus did not cause any substantial wage loss but did cause significant distractions and problems during the work day. Ultimately, plaintiff was seen by Dr. Friedland, the Chief of the Department of Otolaryngology and Communication Sciences of the Medical College of Wisconsin. Although nothing can be done to cure tinnitus, with the help of biofeedback and “masking” therapy, treatments and lifestyle changes, plaintiff is able to control the symptoms. Pre-suit State Farm Insurance argued that tinnitus will go away over time and pointed to a remote ear infection as a potential cause of the tinnitus. After the case was put into suit State Farm did not hire a doctor to dispute any diagnosis medical care.

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