Case details

Plaintiff claimed hit-and-run caused major financial losses





Result type

Not present

back, cervical, emotional distress, head, headaches neck, lower back, lumbar, mental, neck, neurological, psychological, radiculopathy, strain, thoracic
On Nov. 19, 2016, plaintiff Marina Henderson, 35, a rideshare driver, was driving a passenger, who was seated in the rear seat of her compact vehicle, while in the course and scope of her employment. As they attempted to enter the northbound lanes of State Route 110, also known as the Harbor Freeway, from the on-ramp at West 8th Street, in Los Angeles, traffic slowed to a stop because of stop-and-go traffic. While stopped, the left, rear of Henderson’s car was struck by a sport utility vehicle that had veered to the right from the northbound number three lane — the far right lane, closest to the onramp. Henderson claimed to her neck and back. Instead of immediately pulling over to exchange information, the driver of the SUV left the scene and did not call the police to notify them about the collision. However, Henderson’s passenger was able to obtain the license plate of the SUV, and the police were able to track down the driver, Teresa Alvarez. Henderson sued Alvarez and the owner of the SUV, Evelia Calderon. Henderson alleged that Alvarez was negligent in the operation of her vehicle and that Calderon was vicariously liable for Alvarez’s actions. Henderson’s passenger, who also claimed from the collision, filed a separate claim against Alvarez and ultimately settled the claim. Henderson’s counsel contended that Alvarez was driving in the northbound, number three lane of SR-110, closest to the onramp, when Alvarez fell asleep and veered to the right, striking the left, rear of Henderson’s car. Counsel argued that Alvarez’s actions constituted a hit-and-run, and noted that Alvarez admitted to the California Highway Patrol that she had fallen asleep prior to the collision. Henderson’s passenger testified that the collision involved a hard impact and that Alvarez was driving erratically after the crash. Alvarez admitted liability for the accident, but denied fleeing the scene. Instead, she claimed that had pulled off the freeway at the first safe exit, which was the exit at Temple Street, near U.S. Route 101, also known as the Hollywood Freeway. However, plaintiff’s counsel noted that, at trial, Alvarez claimed that she traveling in a different set of lanes altogether, contrary to what Alvarez initially told the CHP officer., Henderson claimed she sustained a cervical strain, a thoracic strain and lumbar strain with subluxation at the cervical, thoracic and lumbar levels. She also claimed she sustained a sprain of a shoulder’s acromioclavicular joint. In addition, she claimed she suffered from headaches as a result of the crash. Henderson alleged that she did not feel pain until hours after the accident and was sorer the following day. As a result, she went to a Kaiser Permanente urgent care and then began chiropractic treatment. She had five visits with one chiropractor before changing to another chiropractor, whom she had 25 more visits. Chiropractic care was the extent of Henderson’s medical treatment and her medical bills totaled $5,354. However, she claimed she wanted to seek additional treatment when her symptoms returned, but she could not afford it and her Kaiser insurance did not provide chiropractic care. She alleged that as a result, she continues to have residual neck, mid-back and lower back pain to this day and that requires future chiropractic care. Henderson worked for a rideshare company from which she leased her vehicle and paid the lease payments by working for the company. However, she claimed that she was slightly behind in her payments at the time of the accident and that because it was a hit run, the rideshare company wanted to assess a $1,000 deductible to repair the vehicle, which she could not afford. She also claimed that after she notified the rideshare company about the collision, the application she used for work was deactivated, preventing her from working further. In addition, she claimed that while her vehicle was in the body shop for an extended period, she was missing further lease payments because she could not work, causing her to be under threat of having the vehicle repossessed by the rideshare company. Henderson claimed that as a result, she had no choice and had to take a significant portion of her financial aid money for college (Los Angeles Trade–Technical College) to pay the rideshare company, but the rideshare company repossessed her car nonetheless. She alleged that as a consequence, she did not have a car, she could not work, and she no longer had that portion of her financial aid that she had intended to use for housing for her and her three kids. (Henderson was a single mom with three children under the age of 10 years old.) Henderson ultimately ended up being homeless for about six weeks, during which time she and her kids lived in a car she rented, and washed and bathed at gas stations and grocery stores. Henderson claimed that as a result of the position she found herself in, she developed severe emotional distress and was ultimately provided In-Home Support Services (IHSS) because she was unable to take care of herself and her kids. Henderson sought recovery of $5,354 for her past medical costs, $1,250 for her past car rental, $8,000 for her loss of income and $8,400 in future medical costs for her future chiropractic care. (Although she claimed she suffers emotional distress, she did not seek recovery for it.) Henderson also sought recovery for her past and future pain and suffering. The defense’s biomechanical engineering and accident reconstruction expert opined that the impact involved in the subject accident was too minor to cause any permanent to Henderson.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, CA

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