Case details

Plaintiff claimed back, hip and head injuries require future treatment





Result type

Not present

back, brain, brain injury, bulging disc, cognition, concussion, head, impairment, lower back, lumbar head, mental, neurological, psychological, radiculopathy, traumatic brain injury
On Jan. 4, 2017, plaintiff Jennifer Valdez, 33, an administrative clerk, was a passenger in a vehicle driven by her brother, plaintiff Javier Valdez. As they were traveling east on West 6th Street, in Los Angeles, their vehicle was broadsided by a vehicle operated by Ashley Jones, who was making a left turn from a stop sign on southbound South June Street. Ms. Valdez claimed she sustained to her head, back and hip. The Valdezes sued Jones, alleging that Jones was negligent in the operation of her vehicle. Mr. Valdez ultimately settled out of the case. Ms. Valdez’s counsel contended that Jones was negligent for attempting to make a left turn at the intersection, even though there were multiple "right-turn-only" signs at her stop. Thus, counsel argued that Jones was negligent for failing to obey the right-turn-only signs and failing to yield to oncoming traffic. Jones admitted that she should not have made a left turn from the stop sign, but she contended that Mr. Valdez could have avoided the accident., Ms. Valdez refused emergency medical evaluation and treatment at the scene, but was taken by her brother to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center’s emergency room, in Los Angeles. At the hospital, she was evaluated and found to be suffering from a bulging lumbar disc at the L5-S1 level, a torn labrum in a hip, and a mild traumatic brain injury (a concussion). Ms. Valdez claimed the lumbosacral disc bulge caused her radiculopathy and that her brain injury led to a pseudotumor cerebri, which is known as a "false brain tumor." The condition can likely be caused by high pressure within the skull due to the buildup or poor absorption of cerebrospinal fluid. Ms. Valdez underwent one month of physical therapy, as well as treated with chiropractic care, acupuncture, cognitive behavioral therapy and pain management. During that time, she treated with an orthopedic surgeon, a neurologist and a spinal surgeon. She also had multiple epidural steroid injections to her lower back and some for her injured hip. Ms. Valdez claimed she is left with minor cognitive deficits and memory issues. She also claimed that she continues to suffer pain in her hip and back, requiring her to take pain medication daily. Ms. Valdez alleged that as a result, she has difficulty dealing with activities of daily living and that she needed accommodations at work, which her employer provided and allowed her to work from home. Therefore, she made no loss of earnings claim. However, Ms. Valdez claimed that her treating doctors recommended future surgery for her hip and lower back. Ms. Valdez’s life care planning expert offered a life care plan that exceeded $3 million for future medical care, which included physical therapy; injections; surgeries; imaging; pharmaceuticals ($1.8 million over her lifetime); aides for independent function; and appointments with a psychologist, a neurosurgeon, a psychiatrist and a neuro-ophthalmologist. Ms. Valdez sought recovery of past and future medical costs, and damages for her past and future pain and suffering. In closing argument, plaintiff’s counsel suggested a verdict in excess of $18 million dollars. Defense counsel questioned Ms. Valdez’s , arguing that Ms. Valdez only sustained strains and/or sprains, which all resolved within a couple of months. Counsel also noted that while Ms. Valdez had a recommendation for a radiofrequency ablation and had multiple recommendations surgeries for her back and hip, the radiofrequency ablation was not performed and none of her surgeries were ever performed. Defense counsel added that all of Ms. Valdez’s care was provided on a lien and could have been done with no upfront cost to her. In addition, counsel contended that Ms. Valdez had health insurance coverage, but chose not to use it to address the alleged stemming from the subject accident. The defense’s expert life care planner refuted the costs offered by the plaintiff’s life care planning expert. As a result, the defense’s expert created a competing life care plan that only included the items that the defense’s experts recommended.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Long Beach, CA

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