Case details

Defense: Forces in accident the same as everyday activities





Result type

Not present

lower back, neck, right leg, upper back
On Jan. 4, 2011, plaintiff Darrell Crooks, 54, a musician, was operating a 2004 Toyota Scion XB with plaintiff Alicia Crawford, 34, a model and actress, as a front seat passenger. While on Winnetka Avenue, at the intersection with Irwin Avenue in Woodland Hills, their vehicle was rear-ended by a 2009 Toyota Corolla operated by Natasha Salley. Crooks claimed to his lower back and right leg, while Crawford claimed to her neck and upper back. However, no police were summoned to the scene and there were no independent witnesses to the accident. Crooks and Crawford sued Mrs. Salley and the owner of the Toyota Corolla, the driver’s husband, Johney Salley. Crooks and Crawford alleged that Mrs. Salley was negligent in the operation of the Toyota and that Mr. Salley was vicariously liable for his wife’s actions. Crooks and Crawford claimed that prior to the accident, they were stopped for a stop light on Winnetka Avenue and that when the light turned green, and before Crooks proceeded forward, his vehicle was rear-ended by Mrs. Salley. Mrs. Salley claimed that the accident occurred after Crooks proceeded forward when the light turned green and then made an unsafe, sudden stop for no apparent reason. She claimed that she applied her brakes, but was unable to avoid “lightly tapping” Crooks’ vehicle., Crooks and Crawford first presented for medical treatment six days after the accident. Crooks claimed he sustained an aggravation of pre-existing soft-tissue to his lower back and upper right leg, which he had originally sustained as a result of a 2006 pedestrian accident when a truck backed into him at a car wash. After the 2011 accident, Crooks was examined by his treating orthopedic surgeon on several occasions and referred to physical therapy at EM Therapeutics, where Crooks underwent 20 physical therapy sessions over a three-month period. While undergoing therapy, he also received follow-up examinations by his treating orthopedic surgeon, who gave him a cortisone shot for the pain in his upper right leg. At the end of his therapy, Crooks’ treating orthopedic surgeon referred him to an acupuncturist, who provided Crooks with acupuncture treatments on nine occasions. After this was completed, the plaintiffs’ treating orthopedic surgeon gave Crooks a final examination and discharged him with a diagnosis of chronic lower back pain. Crooks claimed he still experiences pain to his lower back and upper, right leg. Thus, he sought recovery of $6,852 in total medical expenses and $1,000 in property damage to his vehicle’s rear bumper cover. He also sought recovery of damages for his past and future pain and suffering. Crawford claimed she sustained aggravation of pre-existing soft-tissue to her neck and upper back, which she had originally sustained in an October 2010 automobile accident and which she was still treating with the plaintiffs’ expert orthopedic surgeon at the time of the accident. As a result, Crawford continued treating with her orthopedic surgeon and treated at EM Therapeutics for approximately three months. At the end of her physical therapy, she also received acupuncture treatments on five occasions from the same acupuncturist as Crooks. Upon completion of her acupuncture treatment, Crawford was given a final examination by the plaintiffs’ treating orthopedic surgeon and discharged with mild neck pain. At trial, Crawford claimed she still experiences occasional neck and upper back pain. Thus, she sought recovery of $6,033 in total medical expenses. She also sought recovery of damages for her past and future pain and suffering. Neither plaintiff missed any time from work. As a result, the plaintiffs did not make a claim for lost earnings. Defense counsel argued that the property damage to Crooks’ vehicle was pre-existing and not a result of the subject accident. The defense’s orthopedic surgeon testified that most of the medical services rendered to the plaintiffs were neither reasonable nor necessary. The defense’s accident reconstruction and biomechanical expert testified that the impact speed was, at most, 4 miles per hour and that the forces involved in the accident were in the lower range of forces, which a person experiences in his or her everyday activities.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Torrance, CA

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