Friday, May 02, 2008

What is a "soft tissue" case anyway?

That's one question. But you might ask first -- why is former Cub shortstop Shawon Dunston prominently featured here on the blog of an alleged White Sox fan?

I can tie this up, Your Honor, if you'll give me a moment.

You see, I seem to recall that Shawon Dunston went on the disabled list once, several seasons back, because, he said, he threw out his back putting an infant car seat in his car.

The point is that odd, weird, nagging injuries can happen to anyone -- and sometimes do -- with seemingly little provocation.

And, sometimes, that little provocation that leads to an odd, weird, nagging -- and painful and lingering -- injury is a little "fender bender" auto accident.

Injury does not always result from a "fender bender" -- and thank heavens this is so. Everyone who's ever driven (or been a passenger) in an automobile for any length of time is likely to have been involved in one or more of these. If these types of collisions always resulted in injury, or even if they frequently resulted in injury, we'd be a nation in neck braces.

But real, serious injury can result -- sometimes -- on occasion -- from a very minor accident. These are often called "soft tissue" injuries -- where there are no bone fractures (bones, presumably, being "hard tissues").

I will concede that serious injuries don't result as often as claimed from minor automobile collisions.

"Soft tissue" cases have acquired an unsavory reputation -- and deservedly so -- because so many cases seem to have damage claims inflated entirely out of proportion to any plausible injury.

Many "soft tissue," low impact auto cases seem to be cut from the same suspicious cloth. The medical bills aren't paid (see previous post) and even the choice of providers will raise an eyebrow: The allegedly injured plaintiff who lives and works on the West Side drives himself to the South Side to see a chiropractor -- three or four times a week -- for treatment. And why did the plaintiff chose this particular practitioner? He was referred, he'll say, by a friend. And who -- he'll be asked -- is this friend? But he won't remember the name.

But there are legitimate "soft tissue" cases -- and I would hope that lawyers, insurers, judges and jurors could keep this in mind and evaluate each such case on its merits.

It's just that, in the modern climate, legitimate soft tissue cases are prohibitively expensive to prepare and try.

But that's another story for another day.

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