Case details

Plaintiff claimed intersection crash caused cervical injury





Result type

Not present

cervical spine, neck, radicular pain, sorenes left arm
On Dec. 8, 2012, plaintiff Javier Avila, 40, a UPS Driver, was driving in Northridge on his day off with his wife, plaintiff Monica Avila. After stopping for a red light at the intersection of Plummer Street and Wilber Avenue and waiting for their light to phase to green, their vehicle was struck by a vehicle operated by Kevin Elberger. While the Avilas’ light was red and perpendicular traffic had a green light, possibly phasing to yellow, a vehicle operated by Jose Gabriel began to make a left turn from Plummer Street onto Wilber Avenue. However, after beginning his left turn, Gabriel stopped when he saw Elberger’s oncoming vehicle. Elberger then struck Gabriel’s vehicle and was deflected into the Avila vehicle. There was little damage to the Avila vehicle, but Mr. Avila claimed that he was jolted around inside the vehicle, nonetheless. Thus, he claimed to his neck. The Avilas sued Jose Gabriel; Kevin Elberger; and the registered owner of Kevin Elberger’s vehicle, Michael Elberger. The Avilas alleged that Gabriel and Kevin Elberger were negligent in the operation of their respective vehicles and that Michael Elberger was vicariously liable for Kevin Elberger’s actions. Ms. Avila was ultimately dismissed from the case. Gabriel claimed that he did not know the color of the light at the time of impact, but that his light was yellow for two to four seconds as he entered the intersection. Thus, he claimed that Kevin Elberger was speeding and ran a red light. Kevin Elberger claimed that his light was green the whole time and only changed to yellow after he entered the intersection. However, he claimed Gabriel made an illegal left turn in front of him. Thus, Kevin Elberger asserted the accident was entirely Gabriel’s fault., Although there was little property damage to Mr. Avila’s vehicle, he claimed he injured his neck when the driver’s side of his vehicle was struck, causing him to be jostled around inside. He subsequently presented to a chiropractor for treatment a few days after the accident. Mr. Avila underwent over 30 sessions of physical therapy and then followed up with epidural injections to his cervical spine. He ultimately underwent a single-level cervical fusion at C4-5 level. After the fusion surgery, Mr. Avila reported that he had a great recovery. However, he claimed he still had some neck pain, but was able to return to work as a driver for UPS. Mr. Avila’s treating physician noted that after the surgery, Mr. Avila rated his neck pain as 1 to 3 out of 10, and that Mr. Avila had intermittent radicular pain and soreness in the left arm. Mr. Avila claimed that due to his injury, he will develop adjacent segment disease, where the nearby levels of his cervical spine will be affected, requiring a future fusion surgery. The parties ultimately stipulated that Mr. Avila’s past and future economic damages totaled $375,000, which included past and future medical costs, and two years of lost work. As a result, no physicians were called to testify. Thus, plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury to award Mr. Avila $15 million in total damages. Gabriel’s counsel argued that Mr. Avila’s damages totaled no more than $675,000.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, CA

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