Case details

Intersection crash caused neck injury, taxi passenger claimed





Result type

Not present

back, cervical, cervical injury, disc protrusion, herniated disc, neck, soft tissue sprain, stenosis
On Sept. 10, 2012, plaintiff Carolyn Shaw, 25, a real estate agent, was a back seat passenger in a taxi cab being operated by Ara Keshishian. Shaw, a resident of San Antonio, Texas, was traveling on South Sepulveda Boulevard, in Los Angeles, heading to the Los Angeles International Airport to return home after a business trip to California. As the taxi entered the intersection with South La Tijera Boulevard, it collided with a vehicle operated by Sarah Gengle, who was traveling in the opposite direction and attempting to make a left turn onto on South La Tijera Boulevard. The impact was nearly head-on with slight diagonal directional force. Shaw claimed she injured her neck. Shaw sued the driver of the taxi, Keshishian; the owner of the taxi, Independent Taxi Owners Association of Los Angeles; and the driver of the other vehicle, Gengle. Shaw alleged that Keshishian and Gengle were negligent in the operation of their respective vehicles and that Independent Taxi Owners Association of Los Angeles was vicariously liable for Keshishian’s actions while in the course and scope of his employment. Shaw claimed that Gengle attempted an unsafe left turn on an unprotected green light at the intersection, causing Keshishian to collide with Gengle’s vehicle at approximately 35 to 40 mph. Thus, Shaw’s counsel argued that Keshishian and Gengle were each 50 percent at fault for the collision. Keshishian claimed Gengle failed to yield the right-of-way to oncoming traffic before making an unprotected left turn on a green light. Thus, he claimed that Gengle was 100 percent at fault for the collision. Keshishian’s counsel contended that the traffic collision report indicated that Gengle was the primary collision factor, in that she violated California Vehicle Code § 21801(a), which states that “the driver of a vehicle intending to turn to the left…shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles approaching from the opposite direction, which are close enough to constitute a hazard at any time during the turning movement, and shall continue to yield the right-of-way to the approaching vehicles until the left turn…can be made with reasonable safety.” Gengle claimed Keshishian was comparatively negligent for failing to drive at a reasonably safe speed for the conditions on the roadway and that Keshishian should have braked sooner than he did., Shaw claimed that she sustained a subligamentous cervical disc protrusion at the C5-6 level, resulting in left-sided neural foraminal stenosis. She was subsequently taken by ambulance to a local emergency room with complaints of neck pain. Shaw ultimately underwent 16 sessions of physical therapy. Shaw claimed that despite treatment, she continues to suffer residual pain and limitations in performing activities of daily living. She alleged that she cannot lift her children without constant pain. Shaw claimed that she did not undergo surgery or injections because she became pregnant with triplets about 1.5 years after the crash and that she did not undergo injections or surgery after giving birth because she was breast feeding. Shaw’s treating orthopedist opined that the collision caused Shaw’s neck injury. He also opined that Shaw would require future injections and two cervical surgeries, including a cervical fusion at the C5-6 level and an adjacent level fusion in about 20 years, due to Shaw’s young age. Thus, Shaw sought recovery of $5,540 in stipulated past medical costs, an unspecified amount of future medical costs, and an unspecified amount of damages for her past and future pain and suffering. Both Gengle’s and Keshishian’s medical experts opined that Shaw’s cervical injury was only a minor, soft tissue sprain, which did not require surgery or injections. The medical experts further opined that Shaw’s cervical disc pathology was pre-existing and degenerative in nature.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, CA

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