Case details

Pedestrian required amputation of toes after truck struck her




Mediated Settlement

Result type

Not present

elbow, emotional distress, fracture, left elbow, mental, psychiatric, psychological, right foot
On July 31, 2011, plaintiff Margarita Covarrubias, 38, school counselor, was driving her mother, plaintiff Azucena Covarrubias, 66, as well as her young daughter and nephew, to Toro Park in Salinas for a picnic. Azucena Covarrubias had a stroke 20 years prior and, as a result, was disabled and suffered from left-sided weakness, requiring her to use a cane to ambulate. Upon arriving at Toro Park, at approximately 1:30 p.m., Margarita Covarrubias parked in a handicapped spot and Azucena Covarrubias exited through the front passenger door. As Azucena Covarrubias took a few steps with her cane, a pickup truck operated by Matthew Pierce, a Monterey County Park Ranger, ran over her right foot before knocking her to the ground. Azucena Covarrubias subsequently claimed to her right foot and left elbow as a result of the accident. Azucena and Margarita Covarrubias sued Pierce and his employer, the county of Monterey. Azucena and Margarita Covarrubias alleged that Pierce was negligent in the operation of his vehicle and that the county was vicariously liable for Pierce actions through the course and scope of his work with the county. Plaintiffs’ counsel contended that Pierce was looking to his right as his truck was moving forward and to the left. After initial discovery and depositions of the parties, Pierce admitted liability for the collision. However, defense counsel contended that there was some evidence that Azucena Covarrubias was inattentive and partially at fault., Azucena Covarrubias suffered a crush injury to her right foot. She also claimed she suffered a fracture of her left elbow during the accident. She was subsequently taken by ambulance to an emergency room. Azucena Covarrubias ultimately underwent multiple surgeries on her right foot, resulting in the amputation of all of the toes on that foot. She also required surgery on her left elbow, which included the insertion of hardware. Azucena Covarrubias remained hospitalized for five weeks and was then transferred to a skilled nursing facility for an additional six weeks. Azucena Covarrubias claimed that due to her condition, she now requires a prosthetic for her foot, as well as at-home attendant care and household services. Thus, she sought recovery of $118,279 in past medical costs and $1 million in future attendant care costs. She also sought recovery of damages for her past and future pain and suffering. Margarita Covarrubias claimed severe emotional distress as a result of witnessing her mother’s accident. She subsequently sought psychiatric counseling for three months. She claimed her symptoms later resolved. Thus, she sought recovery of general damages for her emotional distress. Azucena Covarrubias’ husband, Severino Covarrubias, brought a derivative claim, seeking recovery of damages for his loss of consortium. Defense counsel contended that Azucena Covarrubias would have required attendant care due to her pre-existing condition and stroke, regardless of the accident. As such, counsel disputed her $1 million claim for future care, and the defense’s physical medicine expert estimated that Azucena Covarrubias would only require four years of attendant care for sustained during the subject accident. Defense counsel also disputed causation as to Margarita Covarrubias’ claim, arguing that Margarita Covarrubias had a long history of psychiatric treatment stemming back to a 1985 automobile accident. Counsel noted that Margarita, Azucena and Severino Covarrubias were in a serious accident in 1985, in which Azucena Covarrubias sustained a traumatic brain injury that paralyzed her on the left side and Margarita Covarrubias suffered psychological trauma as a result of her grandmother and brother dying in the accident.
Superior Court of Monterey County, Monterey, CA

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