Case details

Compression spinal fractures due to crosswalk hit, plaintiff alleged





Result type

Not present

injuries, lower back, lumbar-thoracic spine, pain
On May 7, 2013, plaintiff Jennifer Starrett, 30, a nurse, exited a 7-Eleven convenience store and attempted to cross the intersection of Heil Avenue and Newland Street, in Westminster. As Starrett proceeded forward, she was struck a vehicle operated by Katheryn Borchardt, who was making a left turn from Heil Avenue onto Newland Street. Starrett subsequently fell to the ground and she allegedly sustained a serious injury to her lumbar-thoracic spine. Starrett sued Borchardt, alleging that Borchardt was negligent in the operation of her vehicle. Starrett claimed that she entered the crosswalk with a pedestrian walk signal, but she could not recall if she had pressed the crosswalk signal activation button. Borchardt testified that she was making the turn on a green light and that she never saw Starrett near the intersection prior to the collision. Defense counsel called a city of Huntington Beach transportation engineer to testify. The engineer claimed that the pedestrian right of way requires the activation of a crosswalk button and does not illuminate automatically. Thus, defense counsel argued that Starrett was comparatively at fault for crossing on a “Don’t Walk” sign and for failing to see Borchardt’s vehicle during the turn., Starrett was transported by ambulance to an emergency room at a nearby hospital. She was initially diagnosed with a lumbar strain and abrasions before being released the same day. After complaining of continuing back pain later that week, Starrett visited an urgent care center and was recommended for physical therapy. However, Starrett did not seek further treatment until three months after the accident due to a lack of insurance. While visiting a physician for her back pain, Starrett was informed that she was pregnant and recommended further physical therapy. As a result, Starrett attended therapy sporadically and did not seek care for her back pain until a year after she gave birth. In 2014, Starrett underwent X-rays, which revealed two healed compression fractures at L1 and T12. No further treatment was recommended beyond pain medication. Starrett claimed that as a result of her , she experiences ongoing lower back pain. Thus, she sought recovery of past lost wages, past and future medical expenses, and damages for past and future pain and suffering. Starrett’s husband, George Palaziol, initially presented a derivative claim, seeking recovery of damages for his loss of consortium. However, he was ultimately dismissed from the case prior to trial. Defense counsel argued that Starrett’s compression fractures were unrelated to the accident. Counsel maintained that any current pain Starrett allegedly experiences were from a subsequent work fall or degenerative changes in the spine.
Superior Court of Orange County, Orange, CA

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