Case details

Defense claimed plaintiff’s injuries were subjective





Result type

Not present

back, cervical, degenerative disc condition, exacerbation of, exacerbation of knee, fusion, herniated disc, lumbar, neck, neurological, radiculopathy, shoulder, shoulder impingement
On April 27, 2015, plaintiff Demetrio Tapia, 47, a health insurance enrollment counselor, was driving on southbound Interstate 110, also known as the Harbor Freeway and Transit Way, in Los Angeles. As he slowed down for traffic near the exit for West 43rd Street, his sports car was rear-ended by a mid-sized car driven by Abigail Siniscal. Tapia claimed to his neck, back and a knee. Tapia sued Abigail Siniscal and the other name on the insurance policy for the sedan, Albert Siniscal. Tapia alleged that Ms. Siniscal was negligent in the operation of her car and that Mr. Siniscal was vicariously liable for Ms. Siniscal’s actions. Mr. Siniscal was ultimately dismissed prior to trial. Ms. Siniscal conceded liability, and the trial solely addressed causation and damages., Tapia claimed he aggravated degenerative disc conditions in his back and neck. He specifically claimed that the trauma to his cervical spine caused radiculopathy into his right shoulder and arm. He also claimed that the accident caused or aggravated a previously asymptomatic cervical disc herniation at the C5-6 level. He was also diagnosed with a post-traumatic herniated nucleus pulposus in his lumbar spine. In addition, Tapia claimed he suffered a right shoulder impingement and a sprain to his left knee. After the crash, Tapia went to his job, as scheduled, and first sought treatment with a chiropractor three days later. He initially treated with physical therapy, chiropractic treatment and conservative pain management. He was also administered five epidural injections of steroid-based painkillers. In August 2017, Tapia underwent an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion. The following month, he had an anterior lumbar interbody fusion. He then continued to follow-up with his orthopedic surgeon and was still receiving ongoing treatments at the time of trial. Tapia claimed he is in constant pain and has trouble sleeping as a result of his . He also claimed that it is hard for him to lift or play with his young daughter. Tapia alleged that he would need three additional surgeries in the future: a cervical fusion, a lumbar fusion and a lumbar pedicle screw removal. The fusions would address adjacent segment disease. Tapia sought recovery of past and future medical expenses, past lost earnings, and damages for his past and future pain and suffering. Defense counsel stipulated that Tapia had $11,124.50 in past lost earnings due to his various post-accident doctors’ appointments. However, counsel maintained that the crash was not a substantial factor in causing Tapia harm. Defense counsel specifically argued that the subject crash was a low-impact collision. Counsel noted that Tapia was not hospitalized and, instead, went to work from the scene and that when Tapia arrived at his place of employment, he did not mention the crash to his primary care doctor, who worked in the same building. Defense counsel additionally implied that Tapia’s doctors were biased in their claims. Counsel noted that Tapia did not seek medical treatment for the accident until the day he hired an attorney and that Tapia’s doctors had signed liens saying they would not get paid for their services until Tapia’s lawsuit settled or a judgment was issued. In addition, defense counsel argued that Tapia’s pain complaints were subjective and that there was no way to verify whether they were true.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, CA

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