A Baltimore man whose knee injury was misdiagnosed by an emergency room doctor, leading to a subsequent amputation of the leg, was awarded $5.2 million in a recent medical practice verdict in Baltimore. However, because the plaintiff and defendant had made a high-low agreement before the verdict, the plaintiff will receive $1.5 million.
The man’s injury occurred in his line of work as a security guard. A coworker accidentally raised a vehicle barrier as the man was walking over it, causing his left leg to get stuck. His knee became dislocated before returning into place. The man was taken to a hospital emergency room and treated by a physician and his assistant. X-rays did not show a fracture or dislocation of the knee. The injury was diagnosed as a knee sprain, and the patient sent home.
The man soon noticed swelling, tingling and numbness of his leg, and within two days a doctor couldn’t find a pulse in the leg. An MRI then revealed that all of the ligaments in his left knee had been shredded. Surgery to attempt to recover the leg was unsuccessful, and the leg had to be amputated above the knee.
In a high-low agreement, the plaintiff and defendant come to terms regarding the verdict while the jury is still in session, thus the jury is not aware of the agreement. An agreement is made that the plaintiff will receive a minimum amount, which is advantageous in the event that the jury’s verdict is less than this minimum. However, the plaintiff also accepts that he or she will receive no more than a predetermined maximum amount, even if the jury renders a higher verdict.