Case details

Motorcyclist: Exacerbation of back injury after struck by truck





Result type

Not present

back, degenerative disc condition, exacerbation of, lower back, neck
On March 23, 2010, at approximately 1 p.m., plaintiff Donald Goodner, 52, an on-duty Riverside police officer, was riding his motorcycle when he pulled over a pickup truck operated by Jeffrey Putnam, an off-duty Riverside police officer. The vehicles subsequently pulled into a gas station on Streeter Avenue in Riverside. Goodner claimed that after dismounting his motorcycle, he was struck by Putnam, who was reversing his truck. Goodner claimed he was knocked backward to the ground, landing on his flashlight and his lower back. Goodner sued Putnam, alleging the defendant was negligent in the operation of his vehicle. Goodner noted that video footage from the gas station of the accident was confiscated by the Riverside Police Department and that Putnam was determined to be at fault. Putnam initially argued that Goodner did not follow department policy by not offering his lights and sirens when pulling him over. He also argued that he could not see Goodner when he reversed his vehicle because Goodner had pulled up too closely behind his truck. However, Putnam ultimately admitted liability for the accident, and the matter proceeded to an expedited trial on damages., Goodner was taken by ambulance to an emergency room, where he underwent a CT scan that revealed pre-existing, degenerative changes that were allegedly exacerbated by the accident. He subsequently had a few visits with an orthopedist and underwent some chiropractic care over the course of two years, all through his worker’s compensation carrier. Goodner claimed his lower back condition is close to fully resolved, in that he experiences some symptoms after overexerting himself. As a result, he was able to return to light duty for a few weeks following the accident and then return to full duty up until his retirement in December 2013, which was non-injury related. However, Goodner claimed that he will require chiropractic care or physical therapy to treat flare-ups. Thus, Goodner sought recovery of $7,953 in stipulated past medical costs and $15,000 in future medical costs. He also sought recovery of $55,000 in damages for his pain and suffering. Defense counsel disputed Goodner’s alleged and damages. Counsel argued that Goodner was not seriously injured and contended that Goodner merely sustained a short-term soft-tissue injury that should have resolved within six weeks of the accident. Thus, defense counsel argued that any treatment or complaints after six weeks was strictly related to Goodner’s pre-existing lower back condition caused by an on-the-job altercation.
Superior Court of Riverside County, Riverside, CA

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