Case details

Plaintiff claimed crash caused spinal injuries and anxiety





Result type

Not present

anxiety, back, bruise, bulging disc, cervical, chest, fracture, head, headaches, leg, lumbar, mental, neck, neurological, psychological, radicular pain, radiculitis
On June 28, 2012, plaintiff Marina Castaneda, 39, was driving on northbound Avenida La Cresta in Murrieta, accompanied by her son, plaintiff Joey Castaneda, 7, in the front passenger seat. At approximately 8 p.m., they were stop behind a vehicle at the intersection with Avenida Castilla, waiting to turn left, when their vehicle was rear-ended by a pickup truck operated by Joceline Grady. The impact pushed the Castaneda vehicle into the lead vehicle, causing both air bags to deploy and fill the vehicle with smoke. Ms. Castaneda claimed that her head slammed into the air bag, causing her mouth to fill with blood, and that she frantically removed her crying son from the car, fearing it may catch fire. The two of them then waited for the ambulance to arrive while Ms. Castaneda was laid out on the road. Ms. Castaneda then complained of chest and leg pain at the scene before she was transported to an emergency room. Ms. Castaneda, acting individually and as guardian ad litem for her son, Joey, sued Joceline Grady and the registered owner of the pickup truck, Warren Stephenson, Joceline’s grandfather. Ms. Castaneda alleged that Joceline was negligent in the operation of the pickup truck and that Stephenson was vicariously liable for Grady’s actions. Prior to trial, Joey, who treated with his pediatrician for one check-up after the accident, settled his case with the defendants for $300 (via the C.C.P. § 998 offer). Ms. Castaneda’s counsel contended that at the time of the accident, the passengers in Joceline’s vehicle were “car dancing,” as they were on their way to a party. Thus, counsel asserted that Joceline, age 17, was inattentive at the time of the accident. Joceline ultimately admitted liability for the accident, during her deposition, several months prior to trial., Ms. Castaneda was taken by ambulance to an emergency room, where she complained of pain and bruising to her chest, as well as bruising, cuts and abrasions to her legs. After a series of diagnostic tests, she was diagnosed with contusions to both legs, and chest wall pain. She was then discharged with instructions to rest, and take acetaminophen and ibuprofen for pain. Ms. Castaneda was also instructed to seek follow-up care with a physician. Upon discharge, Ms. Castaneda sought a chiropractic consultation for her neck pain. There, she complained of severe headaches and sensitivity to light, as well as neck and chest pain, nervousness, irritability, loss of sleep, tension, and jaw pain. She then underwent manual therapy, ultrasounds, and electrotherapy over the course of several months, but claimed her pain persisted. On Aug. 8, 2012, Ms. Castaneda consulted with an orthopedic surgeon and complained of continuing neck pain radiating into her head, shoulder and hands. She also complained of lower back pain radiating into her right leg. After a series of tests, Ms. Castaneda was diagnosed with enthesopathy, myalgia and myospasm of the cervical and lumbar spine; cervicalgia; neuritis/radiculitis of the lumbar spine; a left elbow/forearm contusion; a left elbow derangement; and a left knee abrasion/scar. She was prescribed a left knee brace and followed up with the orthopedist on Oct. 3, 2013. She also underwent MRIs that revealed 1- to 2-millimeter posterior disc bulges at C3-4, C5-6, C6-7 and C7-T1; a 2- to 3-millimeter posterior disc bulge at C4-5; 1- to 2-millimeter posterior disc bulges at L2-3 and L3-4; a 2- to 3-millimeter disc bulge at L4-5; and a 3- to 4-millimeter disc bulge at L5-S1. Ms. Castaneda was also diagnosed with a facet fracture at T11. She subsequently treated with several months of massage therapy. Her orthopedist also recommended epidural injections to treat the bulging discs, but Ms. Castaneda has not pursued them due to relieving symptoms. Ms. Castaneda claimed she suffers bouts of anxiety and nervousness stemming from the accident, often when she drives. She claimed her condition causes her to tense up and become sick, so she has been prescribed Xanax for it. She also claimed she suffers sleeping problems and frequent nightmares, and that she now requires sleeping aids. Thus, Ms. Castaneda sought recovery of $16,909 in past medical costs and $75,000 in future medical costs. She also sought recovery of $50,000 in damages for her past pain and suffering, and $50,000 in damages for her future pain and suffering. Defense counsel contended that Ms. Castaneda refused cervical spine precautions and an IV, both against medical advice, and that she signed a release in that regard. Counsel also contended that Ms. Castaneda denied neck pain at the E.R. and left the hospital early against medical advice. Regarding Ms. Castaneda’s alleged psychological injury, defense counsel argued that despite Ms. Castaneda’s claim of anxiety, she never had any counseling or therapy, nor did she see a psychologist or psychiatrist. Counsel contended that while Ms. Castaneda had anxiety shortly after the accident, the reason she was prescribed Xanax, according to the deposition of the plaintiff’s internist, was for other personal issues unrelated to the accident.
Superior Court of Riverside County, Riverside, CA

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