Case details

Jogger claimed neck injury after struck by passing pickup





Result type

Not present

neck, neurological, radiculopathy
On Nov. 26, 2011, plaintiff Alejandro Escutia, 38, a cook, was jogging north in the southbound bike lane of Zoo Drive in Griffith Park. Kelly Ingalls, who was driving a Ford F-150 pickup truck on southbound Zoo Driver, ultimately struck Escutia’s right shoulder with the right side mirror. Escutia claimed to his neck. Escutia sued Ingalls, alleged that Ingalls was negligent in the operation of her pickup truck. Specifically, Escutia claimed that he was struck by the mirror on Escutia’s pickup, knocking him down on his knees and hands. He also claimed that after the accident, Ingalls took off, returning only after 10 to 15 minutes. Escutia alleged that Ingalls then took him to a hospital, called her carrier from the waiting room, and then took off from the emergency room. Up until the trial, liability was disputed. However, prior to opening statements, Ingalls admitted liability for the accident., Escutia claimed he suffers cervical radiculopathy as a result of the accident. After the accident, Escutia was taken to an emergency room, where, according to his medical report, he only mentioned pain to his right shoulder and forearm. However, four days later, Escutia presented to a chiropractor with neck pain. He then underwent four months of chiropractic treatment, underwent an MRI and saw orthopedists during the initial four months. He then underwent additional testing due to claims of blood in his urine following the accident. At some point, Escutia was discharged by the chiropractor when Escutia allegedly had minimal neck pain and a month later, an orthopedist later discharged Escutia when he noted “no pain for the past 10 days.” After 15 months, Escutia received two epidural injections of a steroid-based painkiller to his cervical spine. After the second injection, he noted that his pain was a 1 out of 10. Escutia then returned to his treating spinal surgeon a year later with complaints of pain. Escutia testified that he continued to jog and play soccer after the accident, but that he suffers significant radiating high levels of pain to his upper extremities levels. He did not make any loss of earnings claim, but claimed that his medical costs totaled $78,681.74. His treating spinal surgeon also testified that Escutia requires an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion that will cost $150,000. In addition, Escutia sought recovery of damages for his past and future pain and suffering. Thus, during closing arguments, plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury to award Escutia approximately $1.1 million in total damages. Defense counsel acknowledged that Escutia suffered a cervical injury, but argued that it was soft-tissue in nature and should have resolved within six to eight weeks. Counsel also argued that the alleged numbing pain associated with Escutia’s middle finger was due to carpal tunnel syndrome due to him being a cook, and not due to radiating nerve root irritation from his neck. Defense counsel also disputed that Escutia required surgery to his neck. Defense counsel noted that Escutia was discharged from his treating chiropractor and orthopedists because he only had minimal pain and that Escutia had a gap in treatment for 15 months before returning to receive two cervical epidural injections. Counsel also noted that there was another gap in treatment of one year after receiving the injections before Escutia returned to his treating spinal surgeon. Thus, defense counsel asked the jury to award Escutia only about $19,000.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Van Nuys, CA

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