Case details

Defense: Driver should have seen stopped tractor-trailer





Result type

Not present

brain, brain damage, brain injury, cervical, fracture, fusion, herniated disc, leg, neck, neurological, reflex sympathetic, traumatic brain injury
On Jan. 8, 2016, at 8:20 p.m., plaintiff Christina Douglas, 35, a receptionist and student, was driving in the number one, westbound lane — the left of two westbound lanes — on Airport Expressway, in Victorville, when she struck the rear of a stopped tractor-trailer, which had no lights on. Douglas claimed to her head, left leg, and neck. Douglas sued the operator of the tractor-trailer, Adalberto Gonzalez, and Gonzalez’s employer, Khalsa Trucking, LLC. Douglas alleged that Gonzalez was negligent in the operation of the tractor-trailer and that Khalsa Trucking was vicariously liable for Gonzalez’s actions. Douglas claimed that she was driving approximately 55 mph on a very dark section of the roadway when she came upon Gonzalez’s stopped truck. She claimed that she slammed her brakes but was unable to stop before slamming into the rear of the tractor-trailer at a speed of roughly 30 to 40 mph. Douglas alleged that after the collision, Gonzalez exited his rig, saw what happened, got back in the truck, turned on his lights and attempted to flee the scene before he was stopped by witnesses. According to Douglas and two eyewitnesses, the stopped tractor-trailer was not visible to oncoming traffic, given the lighting conditions at the time. Douglas’ counsel contended that Gonzalez was 100 percent responsible for the incident, as he was stopped in traffic lanes without any lights on and without the required reflective tape on his trailer. Counsel also contended that Gonzalez was negligent for attempting to flee the scene. According to defense counsel, Gonzalez refused to answer discovery, attend his deposition, attend trial or otherwise participate in the defense of the case. Khalsa Trucking, a suspended corporation, and its representatives also refused to participate in the defense of the case or attend trial. The defendants’ insurance carrier ultimately intervened in the case in order to defend it. Defense counsel argued that Douglas should have had sufficient time to perceive Gonzalez’s rig, regardless of whether its lights were on. Counsel also denied that Gonzalez made any attempt to flee the scene., Douglas sustained a fractured left tibia. She also claimed she sustained a traumatic brain injury, herniated cervical discs, and multiple cuts, abrasions and sprains over her entire body. She alleged that as a result of her , she developed complex regional pain syndrome. After the collision, Douglas was transported by ambulance to St. Mary’s Medical Center, in Apple Valley. She then treated with roughly one dozen medical providers over the next three years, before eventually undergoing a cervical fusion. Douglas claimed that dispute undergoing surgery, she continues to suffer from ongoing neck and leg pain. She alleged that as a result, she will require a lifetime of medical care, including a future cervical fusion. Although Douglas waived her claim for lost earnings, she alleged that her residual neck pain limited all of her daily activities and delayed her contemplated college graduation. Douglas sought recovery of $3,496,000 in total damages, including $283,000 for past medical bills, $213,000 for future medical bills, and $3 million for her past and future general damages. Defense counsel contended that, in addition to the leg fracture, Douglas only sustained soft tissue sprains and strains. Counsel argued that Douglas’ past medical care was mainly unnecessary and unreasonable and that very little future medical care was necessary. Defense counsel asked the jury to award Douglas only $98,000 in total damages, include $40,000 for past medical bills, $8,000 for future medical bills, $50,000 for past general damages, and nothing for future general damages.
Superior Court of San Bernardino County, San Bernardino, CA

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