Case details

Plaintiff claimed rear-ender caused bulging lumbar disc





Result type

Not present

back, bulging disc, lumbar
On Aug. 1, 2010, at approximately 6:55 p.m., plaintiff Robert Miller, 53, was driving across the San Francisco/Oakland Bay Bridge, traveling on eastbound Interstate 80 in San Francisco when his vehicle was rear-ended by a tow truck driven by Nathan Brown. As a result of the collision, the trunk of Miller’s vehicle sustained moderate damage, and Miller claimed to his lower back. Miller sued the driver of the tow truck, Brown; the owner of the tow truck and Brown’s employer, V&U Towing Services; and the company’s owner, Victor Ureta, individually and doing business as V&U Towing Services. Miller alleged that Brown was negligent in the operation of the tow truck and that V&U Towing and Ureta were vicariously liable for Brown’s actions. The defendants admitted negligence in the collision. According to defense counsel, the matter went to arbitration, resulting in award of $40,000, plus costs, for Miller’s total damages. However, Miller rejected the arbitration finding, and the matter went to trial., Following the collision, Miller continued his drive from San Francisco to his home in Scottsdale, Ariz. Over the course of the next six months, Miller sought treatment for his complaints of pain to his lower back, left buttocks, and left thigh. He followed up with his primary care physician, who ordered a lumbar MRI that showed a disc bulge at L4-5. Miller then underwent physical therapy and received two injections at a pain management facility. Miller claimed that even after this treatment, he continued to experience pain in his back and leg, so he underwent a short course of chiropractic treatment. The plaintiff’s expert orthopedic expert testified that the accident caused the formation of a high intensity zone in Miller’s spine, which caused continuing irritation of the nerves, leading to chronic lower back pain that would continue for the rest of his life. The expert opined that Miller’s treatment had been reasonable and that Miller would require additional treatment. However, Miller claimed he would continue to experience pain despite all of the treatment he would undergo. Thus, Miller sought recovery of approximately $32,000 in total medical costs and approximately $8,000 in lost income. However, plaintiff’s counsel reported that the full amount of Miller’s medical costs was not considered by the jury and that only an amount of $20,325 was presented. Defense counsel disputed the amount of Miller’s medical costs, arguing that the amount of treatment Miller underwent was not reasonable or necessary. The defense’s medical expert opined that the accident did not cause any changes to Miller’s spine and that the past treatment Miller underwent was not reasonable. The expert also opined that no further treatment would be required.
Superior Court of San Francisco County, San Francisco, CA

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