Case details

Plaintiff claimed permanent neck injury after rear-end crash





Result type

Not present

back, cervical, lumbar, neck, strain
On Sept. 21, 2015, plaintiff Colette Carter, an unemployed 51 year old, drove from West Ninth Avenue onto the on-ramp for Interstate 15, in Escondido. As Carter merged into traffic, her sedan was rear-ended by a sport utility vehicle driven by Patti Mitchell. Carter claimed to her neck and back. Carter sued Mitchell, alleging that Mitchell was negligent in the operation of her vehicle. Mitchell conceded liability and causation, and the trial solely addressed the amount of Carter’s damages., Carter claimed the collision aggravated her pre-existing cervical and lumbar strains. She did not require treatment at the scene, but she first sought treatment with Graybill Medical Group the next day. She was treated and released. Carter claimed that her condition did not cause her pain until after the accident and that the crash aggravated her previously asymptomatic degenerative disc disease. She underwent 50 chiropractic treatments over the next six months, and had appointments with her primary care doctor and a neurologist. She continued her treatment intermittently through the end of 2017 and then began a course of acupuncture. While Carter admitted that her lower back pain had resolved, she claimed a permanent chronic injury to her neck. She alleged that she was an avid gardener prior to the accident, but that she could no longer tend to her garden as a result of her . She also alleged that she could no longer go hiking or bird-watching, as she had before. She further alleged that it was hard for her to bend, stoop or lift heavy objects, like laundry baskets, so her husband now has to help her with chores around the house. In addition, Carter claimed she will eventually need additional treatment, specifically chiropractic care, consultations with a neurosurgeon, and epidural injections. The plaintiff’s expert orthopedic surgeon opined that Carter will have pain in her neck for the rest of her life. Carter sought recovery of $200,000, including approximately $15,000 in past medical expenses, approximately $100,000 in future medical expenses, and damages for her past and future pain and suffering. The defense’s expert neurosurgeon opined that the accident only caused a muscle strain in Carter’s neck and that it should have resolved within six weeks. Defense counsel maintained that any additional symptoms were unrelated to the accident. Defense counsel argued that Carter should only be awarded $5,215, which represented Carter’s medical expenses during the six weeks after the crash.
Superior Court of San Diego County, San Diego, CA

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