Case details

Accident with reversing vehicle caused mid-back injury: plaintiff





Result type

Not present

back, facet syndrome, head, headaches, mid-back, neck, right shoulder
On Oct. 29, 2011, plaintiff Ansar Muhammad, 38, a truck driver, was looking for a parking spot in the multi-story parking lot of Oakland Medical Center (Kaiser Oakland). While at a complete stop, she was struck by a reversing sport utility vehicle operated by Genevieve Schwarzkopf, who was traveling at a speed of 5 to 9 mph. Muhammad claimed to her neck, mid-back, and right shoulder. Muhammad sued Schwarzkopf, alleging the defendant was negligent in the operation of her vehicle. Muhammad contended that Schwarzkopf unsafely backed up her SUV to get into a parking spot without looking or checking her mirrors. Schwarzkopf contended Muhammad was comparatively at fault for the accident. She claimed Muhammad saw her backing up, but failed to move and make room for her vehicle., Two days after the accident, Muhammad went to a chiropractor with complaints of neck, mid-back, and right shoulder pain, as well as headaches. She later underwent MRIs and treated with chiropractic care through Jan. 18, 2012. She was ultimately diagnosed with a facet injury at T8-9 and treated with pain management — including a facet joint injection at T8-9 — through April 2012. Muhammad also went to an emergency room on Nov. 16, 2011, with complaints of mid-back pain and was prescribed pain medication. Muhammad claimed that she still experiences slight mid-back pain, affecting her ability to go bowling, but does not currently seek any future treatment. She also claimed that during her roughly six-month recovery, she was less outgoing and more isolated, affecting her social life. Thus, Muhammad sought recovery of $21,556.07 in past medical costs. She also sought recovery of $35,000 in damages for her past pain and suffering, and $15,000 in damages for her future pain and suffering. Defense counsel contended that Muhammad’s MRIs only revealed degenerative changes in her cervical spine and a normal thoracic spine. Thus, counsel argued that Muhammad’s pain management, including the facet joint injection, and November 2011 emergency room visit were all unrelated to the subject accident. The defense’s accident reconstruction expert testified that the forces in the crash were insufficient to cause any injury. In addition, the defense’s orthopedics expert testified that Muhammad’s complaints were all due to degenerative changes from her work as a truck driver. Defense counsel contended that all of Muhammad’s alleged pain symptoms should have resolved within two to six weeks. As a result, counsel asked the jury not to compensate Muhammad for pain-and-suffering damages.
Superior Court of Alameda County, Hayward, CA

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