Case details

Plaintiff claimed herniations from unsafe lane change





Result type

Not present

back, herniated disc
At approximately 7 a.m. on Oct. 20, 2009, plaintiff Jesus Lopez, 40, a handyman/painter, was driving west on Interstate 10 near Centinela when he was involved in a collision with a vehicle operated by Kristine Agabian. During the impact, the right front corner of Lopez’s vehicle came into contact with the left, front quarter panel of Agabian’s vehicle. Lopez’s vehicle then struck the center divider and his airbag deployed. He subsequently claimed to his neck and back. Lopez sued Agabian. He alleged the defendant was negligent in the operation of her vehicle. Specifically, Lopez contended that he was driving in the left lane when Agabian made an unsafe lane change from a right lane and caused the collision. Plaintiff’s counsel also presented an eyewitness who testified that Agabian made an unsafe lane change. Agabian claimed that she was not negligent, as she was cut-off by a phantom vehicle in the right lane, forcing her into the left lane. Thus, she claimed she was in “imminent peril” and could not avoid the accident., Lopez was taken from the scene of the accident by ambulance and brought to an emergency room. He claimed neck and back pain, and followed up with physical therapy. Lopez was then referred for a lumbar MRI, which he claimed revealed lumbar disc herniations at L4-5 and L5-S1. He subsequently underwent two series of epidural injections to his lower back. Lopez claimed that he still experiences lower back pain and discomfort, and that he has not been able to return to work. His medical experts claimed that he is a candidate for additional lower back surgery. Thus, Lopez claimed $19,500 in damages for his past medical costs, and asked the jury for $80,000 in damages for his future medical costs, which included future back surgery, and $400,000 for his past and future pain and suffering. Defense counsel contended that Lopez only suffered minor soft-tissue and that his alleged herniations were degenerative bulges not caused by trauma. Counsel further contended that any treatment beyond the plaintiff’s initial emergency room visit, consultations, physical therapy and MRI was unreasonable and unnecessary, which included his epidural injections and need for future back surgery.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Santa Monica, CA

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