Case details

Plaintiff claimed distress from witnessing crash-related deaths





Result type

Not present

emotional distress, mental, psychological
On May 27, 2016, plaintiff Chika Lim, 33, a civil engineer, was driving on westbound Interstate 10, in Los Angeles, when her compact vehicle was rear-ended in a multiple vehicle collision. The two vehicles behind her were a pickup truck operated by Gregory Smith and a sedan operated by Chin Wang. The gas tank in Smith’s vehicle’s ruptured in the crash, and Smith remained trapped inside while he suffered fatal . A passenger in Wang’s vehicle suffered fatal , as well. Lim claimed to her neck and back. Lim sued Smith’s estate; Wang; and the co-owner of Wang’s vehicle, Kevin Long. Lim alleged that Smith and Wang were negligent in the operation of their respective vehicles and that Long was vicariously liable for Wang’s actions. Smith’s estate settled out of the case, and Long was dismissed. The matter continued against Wang only. Lim claimed that, due to a car accident ahead of her, she came to a complete stop in heavy traffic. She alleged that 30 seconds later, she placed her vehicle in park and activated her emergency brake, but left the vehicle running. Lim claimed that approximately five seconds later, her vehicle was rear-ended by Smith’s vehicle after it was propelled forward due to being rear-ended by Wang’s vehicle. She also claimed that Wang’s collision with Smith’s vehicle caused Smith’s gas tank to rupture, resulting in the fatal fire. Wang claimed that she did not remember what happened in the collision and that she only remembered seeing the color black. However, she alleged that her vehicle was behind Lim’s vehicle and that Smith’s vehicle was behind her own vehicle. As such, Wang claimed that her vehicle was rear-ended by Smith’s truck and that Smith caused the collisions. She further claimed that Lim was partially to blame, as Lim did not have her tail lights on at the time of the collision. According to plaintiff’s counsel, the accident reconstruction experts from both parties did not agree and had differing opinions about the accident setup., Lim claimed she sustained minor, musculoskeletal soft tissue to her neck and back. She was taken to a hospital, where she was treated and released. Lim was also diagnosed by her psychology expert, as well as by her treating physician, as having suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. Lim claimed she suffered from emotional distress as a result of witnessing the events that led to the deaths of both Wang’s passenger and Smith. The plaintiff’s psychology expert opined that Lim’s PTSD was acute and that Lim no longer suffered from it, as it no longer was at the level of diagnosis. However, the expert opined that Lim now suffers from an anxiety disorder when driving. As a result, Lim claimed that she requires additional counseling. Lim sought recovery of $31,250 in future medical costs. She also sought recovery of damages for her past and future pain and suffering. Defense counsel contended that Lim only sustained minor soft tissue neck and back that should have resolved within four to six weeks. Counsel also contended that Lim did not suffer severe emotional distress and that Lim could not recover damages for severe emotional distress as the result of witnessing a non-relative’s death. In response, the plaintiff’s psychology expert opined that despite not being related to the victims, it would be traumatic for anyone to witness a loss of life.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Compton, CA

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