$154,000 Settlement for crash victim with facet joint injury

Terra initially refused medical attention at the scene, but when her mother arrived and saw the golf-ball-sized lump on Terra’s head, she insisted that Terra see the family’s doctor that afternoon. By the time Terra saw her doctor a few hours later, she was also experiencing neck and back pain. The doctor diagnosed a neck and back strain and a contusion to the head. Terra was advised to go home and ice her injuries and take Ibuprofen for pain.

About four months after the collision, Terra’s mother called the PCP for a back specialist because Terra’s lower back pain had not gone away. She saw an orthopedist doctor at Kruger Orthopedics Clinic in Edmonds, who prescribed 8 physical therapy sessions over the next 30 days. The doctor instructed the physical therapist to develop a home exercise program for Terra so she would not have to continue formal care.


Terra completed her last physical therapy session approximately six months after the date of the collision. The Symptoms Lasted For Years

During a two-year hiatus from medical care, Terra continued to perform her exercises and stretching routines as instructed by her physical therapist. She continued to experience daily low back pain. Terra’s friends and family members all testified at trial that Terra complained about her back pain constantly. Terra testified at trial that over this two-year period she continued the exercise and stretching routine as taught by her physical therapist.

Based on Terra’s MRI, the chiropractor recommended an epidural steroid injection by a medical doctor at Radiology Consultants of Washington. Terra’s back pain after this injection did not go away, which suggested that perhaps the L5-S1 disc protrusion was not the primary cause of pain in her back. Additional Medical Treatment and Diagnoses

Terra was then referred to a spine specialist in Seattle, who treated her for 18 months. He ordered additional physical therapy and later testified that Terra’s ongoing symptoms were consistent with a chronic lower back injury. The doctor’s impression was that Terra was suffering from a chronic injury to the lower lumbar facet joints. The disc protrusion at L5-S1 was also a secondary pain generator that could not be ruled out.

At trial, Terra’s doctors testified that her injury was likely permanent. Terra’s pain was constant and continuous over the previous four years. The only treatment options available for Terra were pain management, and she was recommended a course of spinal injections. She was considered to be a good candidate for a minimally invasive spine surgery known as a neurotomy, during which a hot needle being inserted into the spine.

The defendant was insured by Allstate Insurance Company. In an effort to avoid trial, Terra submitted her case to the King County Superior Court mandatory arbitration program. In this type of proceeding, the court appoints an experienced attorney to hear a shortened version of the case and issue an award. The arbitrator later issued an award in favor of Terra in the amount of $30,000, which included her past medical expense of approximately $8,000. The Case Goes to Trial

The defendant hired Dr. Patrick Bays to examine Terra’s injuries and treatment. The doctor issued his 10-page report finding that Terra’s treatment was reasonable and appropriate, even stating Terra’s disc protrusion and mild facet arthropathy were unrelated to the automobile collision and instead were caused by Terra’s high activity level.

Facet joints are coated with a small amount of low friction cartilage. A tiny sack surrounds each joint. This provides sticky lubrication for each joint, and each of these sacks is surrounded by many nerve fibers. These nerve endings send a painful signal to the brain when the facet joint becomes displaced or irritated. How do Facet Joint Injuries Occur?