Freedman-Lopenzo v. Trumbull Insurance Co.
A court can award economic damages for medical expenses, and non-economic damages for pain and suffering, as a result of a motor-vehicle accident. On Oct. 31, 2008, the plaintiff, Amy Freedman-Lopenzo, allegedly was injured in a motor-vehicle accident. At the scene, the plaintiff reported that she experienced low back pain. The plaintiff, who had no prior back injuries, initially refused the doctor's recommendation that she undergo surgery and pursued conservative treatment. The plaintiff underwent a fusion for a herniated disc at L5/S1 that required a bone graft taken from a cadaver. Her doctor discovered a benign spinal cord tumor and also removed it. The 33-year-old plaintiff testified that after the surgery she experienced significant pain and moved back in with her parents. Previously an active person, who enjoyed skiing, walking, biking, swimming and horseback riding, the plaintiff testified that she continues to experience pain every day, that she is afraid to leave home, because she might fall, and that she feels as though she does not have a life and cannot even play with children. The plaintiff's mother, Attorney Susan Freedman, testified that her daughter used to be very athletic, that she has a gift with children and that her life had changed dramatically, as a result of the motor-vehicle accident. The plaintiff was rated with a 20 percent permanent partial disability of her spine. The plaintiff's medical expenses were $142,735, and the court found that $126,413 was related to the 2008 motor-vehicle accident. The plaintiff, a medical assistant, did not allege loss of earnings or loss of earning capacity. The defendant admitted it was legally responsible. The court awarded economic damages in the amount of $126,413 for medical expenses, plus non-economic damages, for pain and suffering, in the amount of $850,000.