Our client, who was 58 years old at the time, presented to the Milwaukee VA Medical Center for a routine appointment. During this visit, his vitals were checked, and his blood pressure was normal, but his pulse was 161 bpm – a sign of severe tachycardia. However, our client was not made aware of this, and nothing further was done to treat and/or evaluate it.
Unfortunately, about three weeks later, our client suffered a stroke. He was admitted to a private hospital for nearly a month, where he underwent significant treatment, before being discharged to an acute rehab facility due to his functional capabilities being below baseline.
The stroke resulted in paralysis of the right leg, decreased mobility in the right arm, and an inability to walk. It also cost our client his job at Walmart, which caused him and his wife significant financial hardship. However, after extensive rehab, our client ended up making a rather decent recovery, but he is still unable to drive due to permanent weakness in his legs.
In one sense, our client was lucky. He could have died or been left with far more significant disabilities. Still, though, what happened to him was totally preventable.
When we were contacted by the veteran’s wife, we immediately offered them representation and filed a claim. The negligence was clear, and the stroke was preventable. When our client initially presented to the VA for his routine follow-up, he was severely tachycardic. Tachycardia is a recognized symptom of atrial fibrillation, and atrial fibrillation, if left untreated, can result in a stroke. So, had the VA initially recognized the severe tachycardia and provided appropriate treatment, it is more likely than not that our client’s stroke would have been prevented.
Ultimately, the VA acted reasonably and settled the matter for $500,000. They recognized that this would have been an extremely difficult case to defend and understood that we were prepared to file suit and confident in our ability to secure a recovery. However, settling the case without having to file suit is a huge benefit to the client, as the fee is reduced (20% versus 25%) and the expenses are significantly less.
While we are pleased to have secured a considerable amount of money for our client, what happened to this veteran was completely avoidable. He will likely never drive again, will be dependent on others, and cannot hold a full-time job. That sort of loss cannot be quantified, but hopefully the money will provide some sort of financial security for the client and his wife.