Case details

Defense: Force of impact couldn’t cause plaintiff’s injuries





Result type

Not present

face, jaw, nose
On June 5, 2010, plaintiff Katherine DuVal, 42, a firefighter/caretaker, was traveling south on Greenhill Road in rural Sonoma County when she was involved in a sideswipe collision with a sport utility vehicle operated by Erin Phillips, who was traveling in the opposite direction on Greenhill Road. DuVal claimed to her neck, back, right shoulder, jaw, right hip, and gluteus muscles. DuVal sued Phillips, alleging that the defendant was negligent in the operation of her vehicle. The matter proceeded to an expedited jury trial. DuVal claimed that Phillips crossed over the center line of Greenhill Road, causing the sideswipe collision. Plaintiff’s counsel presented a witness who did not see the collision occur, but arrived on the scene immediately after. The witness testified that Phillips made several admissions, including apologizing for the accident, admitting she had crossed over the center line, and saying that she was in a rush at the time. Phillips claimed that it was DuVal who crossed over the center line and caused the sideswipe collision. Defense counsel disputed the plaintiff’s witness testimony, noting that DuVal and her witness were both firefighters and friends who had just been together before the accident. There was no responding police officer at the accident scene., Three days after the accident, DuVal went to her primary care doctor with complaints of pain to her neck, back, right shoulder, jaw, right hip and gluteus. She claimed soft-tissue strains and sprains from the collision. She subsequently treated with roughly four months of acupuncture and three months of chiropractic care. DuVal claimed she could not work caring for an autistic child from the date of the accident through Sept. 12, 2010. She alleged that as a result, she suffered $5,600 in lost wages. DuVal also claimed to have reduced her response rate in her job as a firefighter, but made no special damages claim based on that job. In addition, she claimed $6,671.20 in past medical costs and sought recovery of damages for her pain and suffering. Defense counsel argued that the force of impact and degree of property damage to the vehicles were inconsistent with any significant injury claimed by DuVal. Counsel also argued that during depositions, DuVal disclosed a subsequent industrial injury, but that she claimed it was later in time than it was. Counsel contended that records revealed that DuVal was injured on the job starting a chainsaw on Sept. 3, 2010, during a period in which she claimed she was unable to work due to the underlying automobile accident.
Superior Court of Sonoma County, Sonoma, CA

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