Case details

Minimal impact could not have aggravated prior injuries: defense





Result type

Not present

neck, shoulder
At around 7 p.m. on May 13, 2015, plaintiff Nadeem Aslam, 52, a taxi driver, was in his 2013 Ford C-Max, stopped at a red light at the intersection of Masonic Ave. and Gove Street, in San Francisco. A Toyota Rav4 operated by Elaine Esler was stopped behind Aslam’s vehicle. However, Esler thought traffic was starting to move, so she took her foot off the brake and rolled into the rear-end of Aslam’s vehicle. Aslam claimed to his neck and shoulder. Aslam sued Ms. Esler and the believed owner of Ms. Esler’s vehicle, Chris Esler. Aslam alleged that Ms. Esler was negligent in the operation of the Rav4 sport utility vehicle and that Mr. Esler was vicariously liable for Ms. Esler’s actions. Aslam’s employer, Desoto Cab Co. Inc., was originally named as a plaintiff, but it was ultimately dismissed from the case. In addition, Mr. Esler was also dismissed from the case. Thus, the matter continued with Aslam’s claims against Ms. Esler only. Ms. Esler ultimately admitted liability at trial., Aslam claimed the collision exacerbated his pre-existing neck and shoulder condition. Prior to the crash, Aslam was undergoing physical therapy for pre-existing pain to his neck and shoulder. His records indicated that his pain levels were a three out of 10 prior to the subject accident. However, three days after the collision, Aslam presented for chiropractic care, claiming that the subject accident exacerbated his pain levels to an eight out of 10. As a result, he switched from the physical therapy care that he was undergoing for his previous to chiropractic care, which was on a lien basis and closer to his residence. He also underwent an MRI and consulted, at his expense, with an orthopedic surgeon. Aslam claimed he missed three days of work at DeSoto Cab Co. as a result of his exacerbated shoulder and neck pain. He admitted that he did not take any other time off from work, but claimed that he continued to work in pain because he had to support his family. However, he alleged that he was unable to return to his regular hours, but that he ultimately became completely pain-free four months after the incident due to the chiropractic care. Aslam claimed that he had $1,250 in property damage to his vehicle and that he had $6,212 in past medical records and bills stipulated into evidence. Defense counsel argued that the impact was too minimal to cause any exacerbation of Aslam’s prior injury and that Aslam’s switch to chiropractic treatment was not justified, as Aslam’s pre-collision physical therapy was improving his symptoms. The parties established a confidential high/low agreement and stipulated to an eight person jury.
Superior Court of San Francisco County, San Francisco, CA

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