Case details

Intersection crash caused back and knee injuries, plaintiff alleged





Result type

Not present

back, bulging disc, knee, lumbar, meniscus, neurological, radiculopathy, tear neck
On Oct. 26, 2016, plaintiff William Ochoa, 61, a hairdresser, was driving through a four-way-stop intersection, in Los Angeles, when the front, passenger side of his vehicle was struck by a vehicle being driven by Randy Brown. Ochoa claimed that he suffered of his back, a knee and his neck. Ochoa sued Brown and Brown’s employer, the county of Los Angeles. Ochoa alleged that Brown was negligent in the operation of his vehicle and that the county was liable for Brown’s actions while in the course and scope of his employment. Matthew Houston was also named as a defendant, but he was erroneously sued and ultimately let out of the case. Ochoa’s counsel contended that Brown was negligent for entering the intersection before it was clear. The county admitted liability and sole responsibility., Ochoa claimed he sustained a partial meniscus tear of his right knee. He also claimed he suffered a soft tissue injury to his neck and bulging lumbar discs. Ochoa did not immediately seek medical treatment, and he visited a chiropractor five days after the incident, when he complained of neck and lower back pain. He claimed his lower back pain resulted in radiculopathy. He also complained of knee pain at that time. An MRI taken several months after the accident revealed disc changes in the lumbar spine, including bulging lumbar discs. Ochoa treated with chiropractors and an acupuncturist for approximately eight months, and he received a series of epidural injections in mid-2017. After an MRI in May 2017 revealed a partial meniscus tear, Ochoa underwent a partial meniscectomy for the lateral meniscus in February 2019. He also underwent a lumbar microdiscectomy at the L4-5 level in April 2019. Ochoa claimed he still continues to have variable lower back pain with radiculopathy and right knee pain. He alleged that as a result, he needs to eventually undergo a lumbar fusion with stabilization at the L4-5 level and a total right knee replacement. Ochoa sought recovery of past and future medical costs, and damages for his past and future pain and suffering. The parties stipulated to Ochoa’s property damage. Defense counsel contended that the vehicles were traveling at 8 mph at the time of the crash. As a result, counsel argued that the low-speed collision did not cause any structural to Ochoa. Counsel further argued that the MRI taken several months after the accident revealed only degenerative disc changes in the lumbar spine and that the May 2017 MRI only revealed a partial degenerative meniscus tear. As a result, defense counsel argued that Ochoa’s knee and lower back were pre-existing degenerative conditions and that the collision only caused a soft-tissue sprain to Ochoa’s back.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, CA

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