Case details

Plaintiff claimed her back injury requires future care





Result type

Not present

lumbar facet injury
On Dec. 8, 2015, plaintiff Diana Iriarte, 25, a nursing student, was driving west on East Spring Street, in Long Beach. As she attempted to make a left onto the on-ramp for northbound Interstate 605, her vehicle was broadsided by a vehicle operated by Chad Weaver, who was driving east on East Spring Street with the owner of the vehicle, Jessie Dale, as a passenger. Iriarte claimed that she sustained to her lower back. Iriarte sued Weaver and Dale. Iriarte alleged that Weaver was negligent in the operation of his vehicle and that Dale was vicariously liable for Weaver’s actions. Dale was dismissed from the case prior to trial after his insurer agreed to tender its policy. Plaintiff’s counsel contended that Iriarte was making a left turn on a green light and that Weaver caused the collision by running a red light on eastbound East Spring Street. Weaver admitted liability on the eve of trial., Iriarte sustained an injury to her lumbar facet joints. She was taken by ambulance to Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, in Long Beach, where she spent three days. She was then transferred to Kaiser Permanente-Downey Medical Center, in Downey, where she stayed for four to five days before being released home. Iriarte claimed she was left with residual back pain and facet joint issues. She alleged that, at the time of the accident, she was about to graduate from nursing school, so she had to attend her graduation in a wheelchair and that she had to sit on the side of the stage during the graduation ceremony because she could not walk onto the stage as a result of her condition. Iriarte’s vocational rehabilitation expert opined that, though Iriarte has not had any significant problems, Iriarte would eventually suffer from limitations as a result of her injury. Iriarte’s treating pain management expert testified that he had previously prescribed facet injections for Iriarte’s ongoing pain, but that Iriarte decided to not receive them. Iriarte explained that even though she was in pain, she was not interested in receiving any injections and that she, instead, chose to stretch. However, the expert opined that Iriarte would eventually need the injections to treat her pain. Iriarte sought recovery of future medical costs for the injections that she would allegedly require for the remainder of her life. She also sought recovery of damages for her past and future pain and suffering. The defense’s medical experts opined that Iriarte made a full recovery and would not need any future treatment. According to plaintiff’s counsel, during closing arguments, defense counsel requested that the jury award more than Weaver’s policy limits for Iriarte’s past non-economic damages. As such, there was a bad faith case filed against the insurer due to the open policy.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, CA

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