Unprovoked assault leads to heart attack

Our client, a 59-year old man, was punched in the face by an unknown assailant in an unprovoked attack at a New Year’s Eve party in the clubhouse of an upscale community.  Later the same evening, he suffered a massive heart attack and was rushed to a nearby hospital where he underwent emergency surgery to remove a blockage in his heart.  Following the surgery, our client was admitted to the intensive care unit, where he remained hospitalized for three days until being released. 

Several weeks later, our client returned for a follow up appointment with his cardiologist who confirmed that, in his opinion, the punch triggered the heart attack.  The cardiologist advised our client that the adrenaline from the altercation most likely caused a piece of plaque to become dislodged which then created a blockage. 

Police detectives interviewed the patrons and staff at the clubhouse in an effort to identify the perpetrator, and they identified a suspect whose name appeared on a guest list at the party.  Their investigation revealed that the suspect’s father lived within walking distance of the clubhouse.  The police prepared three separate photo line-ups that included the suspect’s picture, and all of the witnesses to the incident positively identified him as the perpetrator.  As a result, he was subsequently arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and felony aggravated assault.

After identifying the perpetrator, our client contacted us to pursue a personal injury claim.  The first step was to determine whether the perpetrator had insurance coverage or other means to satisfy our client’s claim for damages.  We determined that the perpetrator owned a home and most likely had a homeowner’s insurance policy that would provide liability coverage.  The home was in foreclosure proceedings, but fortunately the homeowner’s policy was in effect at the time of the attack and insurance coverage was available. 

As a result of the heart attack, our client had to make a number of significant lifestyle changes.  In addition, he expects to incur significant future medical expenses to treat his heart-related condition, including prescription medications for the remainder of his life, which we estimated will cost more than $130,000. 

The insurance company initially declined our client's claim, insisting that our client had a number of pre-existing health conditions that were the underlying cause of the heart attack.  The insurance company hired its own cardiologist to review our client’s medical records and render an opinion regarding the cause.  The cardiologist hired by the insurance company concluded that the punch could have indeed triggered the heart attack and, as a result, the company changed its position and paid our client the $250,000 policy limit to settle the claim.