Case details

Plaintiff claimed rear-end accident caused spinal injuries





Result type

Not present

back, cervical, disc protrusion, facet syndrome, head, headaches, herniated disc, neck, neurological, radiculopathy, sprain, strain
At around 1 p.m. on Nov. 13, 2013, plaintiff Brandon Zamudio, 37, a water purification/filtration installation technician, was driving west on the Riverside Freeway, also known as U.S. Route 91, in Fullerton. When he was near the Santa Ana Freeway interchange, also known as the Interstate 5 interchange, Zamudio’s vehicle was rear-ended by a vehicle operated by Vincent Stackle. Zamudio claimed to his head, neck and back. Zamudio sued Stackle, alleging that Stackle was negligent in the operation of his vehicle. Stackle stipulated to liability prior to trial., Zamudio claimed he sustained a cervical disc protrusion at C6-7 with probable symptomatic facet syndrome, a right-sided lumbar disc herniation at L5-S1 with bilateral lumbar radiculopathy, and a cervical strain and sprain, resulting in chronic headaches. Zamudio first presented for medical care to Kaiser Urgent Care on Nov. 17, 2013. He then underwent chiropractic care, but primarily treated with physical therapy at a Kaiser Permanente facility and with a pain management physician. Three years after the incident, Zamudio’s treating pain management physician performed cervical facet nerve block injections at the C2-3 and C3-4 levels, and a transforaminal epidural steroid injection at the L5-S1 level. After his pain management injections, Zamudio only underwent a few other chiropractic visits. The plaintiff’s orthopedist and the treating pain management physician opined that the accident was a substantial factor in causing Zamudio’s and related symptoms, and/or that the accident likely aggravated and worsened any pre-existing degenerative condition. Zamudio claimed that prior to the accident, he led an active lifestyle and played sports, including horseback riding, dirt bike riding, hunting, and riding sea-doos. He also claimed that he held jobs welding and as a locksmith, and had a blue collar job as a technician installing water purification systems for commercial businesses. He was employed at the same company for over 10 years. However, Zamudio claimed that his affected his ability to have an active lifestyle and work at the same jobs. Specifically, he claimed that he now has difficulty lifting heavy items and that he is unable to ride horseback and dirt bikes, hunt, and work on his horse property. Thus, Zamudio sought recovery of $55,502.58 in past medical costs, inclusive of his treater’s services, imaging, physical therapy, and chiropractic treatment. He also sought recovery of $100,000 in future medical costs for a future microdiscectomy or $250,000 in future medical costs for a lumbar fusion at the L4-5 level. In addition, he sought recovery of damages for his past and future pain and suffering. (Zamudio waived his claim for recover of past and future lost earnings.) In total, plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury to award Zamudio $339,502.58 to $489.502.58, depending on which future treatment it determined would be required. Defense counsel contested causation, as well as the nature and extent of Zamudio’s and damages. Counsel noted that there was no traffic collision report and that there was no ambulance, Fire Department personnel, or emergency medical services at the scene. Thus, defense counsel primarily argued that the incident involved a minor impact that only caused soft-tissue . The defense’s accident reconstruction/biomechanics expert opined that the accident involved a rear-end impact with a Delta V of 3 to 5 mph, as experienced by Zamudio, and that the impact was not severe enough to cause all of the alleged by Zamudio. The expert relied on photographs depicting the property damage to both vehicles involved, including an estimate of Zamudio’s vehicle in the amount of $631.90. Defense counsel argued that there were “gaps” in medical treatment and that Zamudio’s prior active lifestyle caused the alleged . Counsel further argued that Zamudio’s were degenerative in nature and related to this lifestyle. Plaintiff’s counsel, who did not have an accident reconstruction/biomechanics expert, argued that the defense’s accident reconstruction/biomechanical expert relied on unreliable information as the basis for his opinions.
Superior Court of Orange County, Orange, CA

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