Case details

Plaintiff claimed rear-end accident caused back injury





Result type

Not present

back, herniated disc
On May 16, 2016, plaintiff Juan Angulo, 25, a day laborer and window washer, was driving on the West Valley Freeway, State Route 85, outside of San Jose. His vehicle was rear-ended by a vehicle operated by Kenneth O’Hearn. Angulo claimed to his back. Angulo sued O’Hearn, alleging that O’Hearn was negligent in the operation of his vehicle. O’Hearn admitted liability., Angulo claimed he sustained a herniated disc at the L4-5 level. He presented to a physician eight days after the accident, and Angulo’s first attorney referred him to a chiropractor. Angulo ultimately underwent a lumbar disc replacement at L4-5 one year after the accident. Angulo’s expert orthopedic surgeon opined that Angulo did not have prior back problems. The expert also reviewed the MRIs and opined that Angulo’s injury consisted of a traumatic herniation that was caused by the accident. The expert further opined that Angulo’s disc replacement surgery was reasonable and necessary. Angulo’s vocational rehabilitation expert opined that Angulo suffered a loss of earnings, as there was no degree required or job specifications for the type of manual labor Angulo performed. As such, the expert opined that Angulo would need job retraining. However, Angulo was able to obtain a construction position and advanced to a foreman for a project. Angulo sought recovery of approximately $294,000 in past medical costs and an unspecified amount in future medical costs. He also sought recovery of past and future loss of earnings, and damages for his past and future pain and suffering. Defense counsel disputed the nature and extent of Angulo’s , and contended that the delta-v for the low-speed accident was 8 mph. The defense’s biomechanical expert opined that the mechanism of injury was not such that there would be a structural change to the lumbar spine. Defense counsel noted that Angulo allegedly said that his back hurt immediately after the crash, but that it “always hurts because of work.” Counsel argued that as a result, Angulo’s injury must have been pre-existing and degenerative. The defense’s loss of earnings expert opined that Angulo did not sustain any loss of earnings, as Angulo already had a new position that paid more than his old position. In response, Angulo’s biomechanical expert opined that the accident was higher than 8 mph and that even at 8 mph, the force was enough to cause the injury alleged by Angulo.
Superior Court of Santa Clara County, Santa Clara, CA

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