Case details

Collision caused need for cervical fusion, plaintiff claimed





Result type

Not present

cervical, fusion, herniated disc, neck
On Feb. 28, 2014, plaintiff Jessica Berrones, 31, a waitress, was driving on westbound Franklin Street, in Los Angeles. As she approached the intersection with Orange Street, her vehicle struck the right, rear quarter panel of a vehicle permissively operated by Hailey Andrews, who was making a left turn from a stopped position on eastbound Franklin Street toward the driveway to The Magic Castle, a nightclub for magicians and magic enthusiasts. Berrones claimed the broadside collision resulted in to her neck. Berrones sued Andrews and the owner of Andrews’ vehicle, her father’s company, AndrewsAG Inc. Berrones alleged that Andrews was negligent in the operation of her vehicle and that AndrewsAG was vicariously liable, as the registered owner of the vehicle, for Andrews’ actions. Plaintiff’s counsel contended that Andrews was operating the vehicle with permission and within the scope of the permissive use. Thus, AndrewsAG accepted Berrones’ statutory demand of $15,000 prior to trial and was not a party in the case at the time of trial. At trial, plaintiff’s counsel argued that Andrews failed to yield the right of way to Berrones’ approaching vehicle and was in violation of § 21801(a) of the Motor Vehicle Code. Andrews claimed that Berrones was at fault because she was driving faster than the posted speed limit. Thus, defense counsel argued that had Berrones been driving the speed limit, she could have avoided the collision., Berrones claimed that she sustained herniated cervical discs at the C4-5 and C5-6 levels. After the crash, the parties exchanged information, and Berrones went to her waitressing job. However, she claimed that within hours, she experienced numbness and tingling in her shoulders and hand, so she went to an emergency room. Thereafter, she underwent a course of treatment, including chiropractic care, physical therapy, cervical epidural injections, and acupuncture. She also underwent pain management via the use of medication. Berrones ultimately underwent a cervical discectomy and fusion at C4-5 and C5-6. Berrones claimed her cervical disc herniations were caused by the collision. Although she initially claimed that suffered a loss of wages from missed time from work and that she will suffer a loss of earnings in the future, she ultimately withdrew her lost earnings and diminished earning capacity claims before trial. Berrones also claimed that she currently has no limitations, but that she may still require surgery in the future. The plaintiff’s treating spinal surgery expert opined that within 10 to 15 years, Berrones would need another cervical fusion at a level above her prior fusions due to adjacent segment disease. The plaintiff’s billing expert opined that Berrones’s past medical costs totaled $201,132.09 and future medical costs for all possible future medical care will total $126,559. Thus, Berrones sought recovery of $201,132.09 in past medical costs, $126,559 in future medical costs, and an unspecified amount of damages for her past and future pain and suffering. Defense counsel disputed the seriousness of Berrones’ alleged , arguing that Berrones’ , if any, were of a strain or sprain type, and would have resolved within months. Moreover, while defense counsel agreed that the discectomy and fusion were medically reasonable based on Berrones’ symptoms and complaints at the time she presented to her neurosurgeon, counsel argued that those complaints were caused by a fall that occurred more than a year after the crash and, therefore, were unrelated to the crash. Defense counsel disputed the reasonableness of Berrones’ past medical care, arguing that Berrones’ medical costs should total $21,378, instead of the $336.594 billed on a lien basis. The defense’s expert neurosurgeon opined that there was zero chance that Berrones would need another fusion in the future as a result of adjacent segment disease.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Long Beach, CA

Recommended Experts


Get a FREE consultation for your case