Case details

Multiple vehicle rear-ender caused spinal injuries: plaintiff





Result type

Not present

abdomen, anxiety, back, emotional distress, head, headaches, herniated disc, insomnia, mental, neck, neurological, psychological, radiculopathy, shoulders
On July 14, 2011, plaintiff Crystal Ferreira, 19, a customer service representative, was driving north on Interstate 15, in Ontario, en route to her place of employment in Fontana. At approximately 3 p.m., while traveling in congested traffic, just north of Philadelphia Street, Ferreira was involved in a rear-end collision with two other vehicles. She claimed to her head, shoulders, neck, back, and abdomen. Ferreira sued the operators of the two vehicles behind her, David Chong Yi and Nia Jackson; the believed owners of the Yi vehicle, Jeff Yi, Jin Yi and Chi Yi; and the believed owner of the Jackson vehicle, Nakita Telemaque. Ferreira alleged that David Chong Yi and Nia Jackson were negligent in the operation of their respective vehicles. She also alleged that Jeff Yi, Jin Yi and Chi Yi were vicariously liable for David Chong Yi’s actions and that Telemaque was vicariously liable for Jackson’s actions. It was ultimately determined that Jin Yi and Chi Yi were not the true owners of David Chong Yi’s vehicle. As a result Jin and Chi Yi were dismissed by stipulation. Jeff Yi was also dismissed pursuant to a liability coverage stipulation, and Telemaque was dismissed pursuant to a permissive use stipulation. Thus, the matter proceeded against David Chong Yi and Jackson only. Ferreira contended that she was stopped in traffic in the number one lane of northbound I-15 when she felt two impacts. Jackson was traveling directly behind Ferreira and David Chong Yi was traveling behind Jackson. Ferreira claimed that although she felt two impacts, she was not sure as to whether Jackson or Yi initiated the chain-reaction collision. The plaintiff’s accident reconstruction expert testified that Jackson’s vehicle made the first contact with Ferreira’s vehicle and that Yi initiated the second contact. Yi testified that he momentarily took his attention away from the road when he heard a loud noise. However, he admitted he was unable to stop in time to avoid hitting Jackson’s vehicle. Jackson testified that she had stopped just prior to the collision and that she was also the victim of Yi’s inattentiveness. Yi and Jackson filed cross-complaints against each other, seeking indemnity and subrogation., Ferreira claimed she suffered cervical, thoracic and lumbar strains and sprains; cervical and lumbar spine segmental dysfunction; bilateral shoulder (trapezius) strains and sprains; cervical radiculopathy into both upper extremities, causing paresthesia; abdominal pain from a seat belt injury; and headaches. She was subsequently transported by ambulance to an emergency room, where she was treated and released. Ferreira then followed up with her primary care physician, who prescribed pain medication, and later sought care from a chiropractor when her condition did not improve. The chiropractor ordered a cervical MRI, which revealed herniated discs at C5-6 and C6-7. Ferreira was then referred by her primary care physician to an orthopedic surgeon, who recommended physical therapy. Ferreira then treated with physical therapy for two months, but had to stop due to potential complications with her pregnancy. The plaintiff’s treating orthopedic surgeon testified that the MRI findings, combined with Ferreira’s medical history, were consistent with an acute event, rather than a congenital defect. The surgeon also testified that Ferreira continues to experience residual effects, including muscle spasms. The plaintiff’s chiropractic/accident reconstruction expert testified as to the weight of the impact causing physical damage to both Ferreira’s spine and vehicle. Ferreira claimed that despite medical management, chiropractic care, and some physical therapy, she continues to experience cervical and lumbar pain. She claimed that due to her pregnancy and subsequent care for her young child, coupled with insufficient medical insurance, she has been unable to obtain ongoing care for her . Thus, Ferreira sought recovery of $105,000 in total damages. Counsel for Yi and Jackson both argued that Ferreira’s medical bills were too high and that Ferreira’s documented cervical herniations were due to a congenital defect, rather than the subject accident. Counsel argued that Ferreira’s failure to obtain further medical care past the initial six months post-accident was indicative of her condition not being as severe as she claimed. Counsel further contended that Ferreira made no complaint of lower back pain after completing her chiropractic treatment. The defense’s joint chiropractic expert testified that parts of Ferreira’s medical bills were excessive in cost — namely the MRI, chiropractic care, and physical therapy — and that Ferreira’s disc herniations were caused by a congenital defect not related to the subject accident. However, the expert conceded that Ferreira requires further care, but only in the form of analgesics.
Superior Court of San Bernardino County, San Bernardino, CA

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