Case details

Passenger claimed collision caused chest and back fractures





Result type

Not present

anxiety, back, chest, fracture, mental, psychological, rib, sternum
On Jan. 21, 2017, plaintiff Nicasio Benzon, 66, a maintenance worker, was a passenger in a vehicle operated by Jerry Valmoja. While traveling in San Francisco, Valmoja lost control of the vehicle and struck a fire hydrant and a garage door. Benzon suffered to his chest and back. Benzon sued Valmoja, alleging that Valmoja was negligent in the operation of the vehicle. Valmoja’s insurer initially denied coverage due to the resident relative exclusion, claiming Valmoja and Benzon lived together and were related. However, the insurer accepted coverage after plaintiff’s counsel proved that Valmoja was the landlord and did not reside with Benzon and that Valmoja and Benzon only share the same great-great-great grandmother., Benzon sustained fractures of the sternum’s manubrium and body, and fractures of the costochondral junction, where the bones of the fourth and fifth ribs merge into the hyaline cartilage of the costal cartilage. He also sustained displaced fractures of the lumbar spine at L1 and L2, and a burst fracture of the thoracic spine at T12 with retropulsion approximately 5 millimeters into the spinal canal, causing, at least, mild osseous narrowing of the spinal canal. Benzon was immediately taken to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, in San Francisco, and was later transferred to a Kaiser facility. He remained hospitalized for a total of six days and then underwent conservative treatment, which is on-going. Benzon claimed that in addition to his physical , he suffers post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety with panic attacks, and trauma-based sleep disorder with nightmares as a result of the accident. The plaintiff’s treating orthopedic surgeon opined that Benzon will eventually need a spinal fusion. The plaintiff’s expert psychologist would have testified that Benzon’s psychological conditions will be life-long. Benzon’s wife, Madeline Benzon, then a 66-year-old caregiver, presented a derivative claim, seeking recovery for her alleged loss of consortium.
Superior Court of San Francisco County, San Francisco, CA

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