Case details

Collision with dump truck driver caused back injuries: plaintiff





Result type

Not present

back, fusion, herniated disc, lumbar
On July 20, 2015, plaintiff Robert Venkus, 34, a laborer, was driving on Arden Way, in Sacramento. His vehicle was struck by a dump truck operated by Santiago Nolasco, who was towing an empty trailer. Venkus’ vehicle was struck on the left side of its rear and spun 90 degrees until it was in front of the dump truck. It was then pushed a block down the road until Nolasco stopped. Venkus sustained to his back. Venkus sued Nolasco and the owner of the dump truck, Nolasco’s employer, Biondi Paving Inc. Venkus alleged that Nolasco was negligent in the operation of the dump truck and that Biondi Paving was vicariously liable for Nolasco’s actions. Venkus claimed that Nolasco was inattentive and drifted into his lane. Nolasco claimed that he was not even aware that his dump truck had drifted out of its lane and collided with Venkus’ vehicle until his antenna started vibrating, so he decided to pull over and check it out. Thus, Nolasco admitted to causing the collision. Biondi Paving admitted that Nolasco was in the course and scope of his employment at the time of accident that it was liable for Nolasco’s actions., Venkus sustained a herniated lumbar disc at L5-S1. He underwent a spinal fusion surgery on June 27, 2016 and then had a follow-up surgery on Sept. 11, 2017 to remove the hardware. After recovering from his follow up surgery, Venkus was cleared to go back to work. However, he claimed that he would need a second fusion at the adjacent level within 20 years as well as a third surgery. Defense counsel admitted that Nolasco’s negligence was a legal cause of Venkus’ and that Venkus’ were reasonable and necessary. Counsel stipulated to the reasonableness and necessity of Venkus’ first fusion surgery and stipulated that as a result of the first fusion surgery, Venkus would need one more at the adjacent level within 20 years. However, defense counsel disputed the amount of damages that should be awarded. Counsel contended that Venkus’ bills should have been paid by his health insurance, but that he chose not to use it. Defense counsel argued that the recent case of Pebley v. Santa Clara Organics, LLC should not apply, and urged the court to adopt a test that would involve looking into Venkus’ motivations when he chose to not use his health insurance for treatment. Counsel contended that Pebley clearly made a decision to treat outside of plan to receive higher quality care, while Venkus testified that he treated outside of plan to avoid having to pay a deductible. Defense counsel argued that Venkus had an obligation to pay his deductibles in order to mitigate his damages and that if Venkus had treated under his plan, his medical bills would have been a fraction of what they were. Judge Alan Perkins decided that not only would adopting Pebley v. Santa Clara Organics, LLC be a dangerous proposition, but an unnecessary one, as Venkus has a constitutional right to control his medical decisions.
Superior Court of Sacramento County, Sacramento, CA

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