Case details

Plaintiff claimed sideswipe crash caused lower back injury





Result type

Not present

back, lower back, neck
On April 27, 2011, plaintiff Cynthia McDaniel, 51, a high school district labor representative, was driving in the number four lane (the right, slow lane) on Interstate 805, in San Diego, when she was involved in a collision with a vehicle operated by Eleazar Smith. McDaniel claimed neck and lower back . McDaniel sued Eleazar Smith (who was erroneously sued as Eleazer Smith), alleging that Smith was negligent in the operation of her vehicle. McDaniel claimed that she was driving in the number four lane when Smith attempted to merge in front of her from the number three lane. She claimed that as a result, the front end of her vehicle was sideswiped by the rear end of Smith’s vehicle. McDaniel further claimed that after the accident, Smith continued to drive on, essentially leaving the scene, but that Smith eventually did stop, albeit a mile down the road. At his deposition, Smith alleged that he was already in the number four lane, traveling at freeway speeds that were fluctuating between 30 and 50 mph, when McDaniel rear-ended him. He claimed he felt “a pretty good jolt,” which caused his truck to lurch forward, but he checked his mirrors and didn’t see anything, so he kept driving. However, Smith claimed that his passenger told him, “I think someone hit us,” and told him to pull over. He claimed that at that point, he pulled over to see if there was damage to his truck. However, plaintiff’s counsel contended that Smith offered a mildly different version of the accident to the responding officer at the scene. Counsel contended that Smith told the officer that he didn’t stop right away because he was going 60 mph and it took him a mile to pull over., McDaniel complained of pain to his neck and lower back at the scene. However, she did not seek treatment for six months after the accident because she hoped her lower back pain would resolve. However, in January 2012, the pain began radiating into her right leg, causing numbness in that leg. This caused her to follow up with a physician, who performed an MRI and prescribed her medication. She was also given an exercise program to try at home. When that didn’t succeed, McDaniel was sent to an orthopedic specialist, who prescribed aquatic physical therapy and sent McDaniel for an injection. McDaniel’s workers compensation provider refused to authorize continued aquatic physical therapy, so McDaniel continued to follow up with her treating physician throughout the year. Ultimately, her treating orthopedic expert recommended surgery, but McDaniel sought a second opinion before ultimately electing to proceed with the decompression surgery at L4-5 and L5-S1. The surgery took place on March 14, 2014. McDaniel did not miss any work immediately following the accident, but she later missed two months of work following the surgery before returning on May 19, 2014. The plaintiff’s orthopedic expert was deposed on May 6, 2014, and attributed the lower back symptoms and subsequent treatment as being triggered by the April 27, 2011 automobile accident. The defense’s expert in orthopedic surgery conducted a medical exam of McDaniel on Nov. 8, 2013, prior to the surgery taking place, and opined that McDaniel’s treatment was reasonable and necessary.
Superior Court of San Diego County, San Diego, CA

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