Case details

Plaintiff: Rear-ender caused multiple back injuries, surgery




Mediated Settlement

Result type

Not present

back, herniated disc, neurological, radicular pain, radiculitis
On July 15, 2010, at about 7:30 a.m., plaintiff Nelson Lage, 53, was operating a three-axle tractor (sans trailer) that was stopped in rush-hour traffic on westbound Route 60 in Chino when the rear of his tractor was struck by the front of a tractor-trailer operated by Santiago Gonzalez. Lage claimed a herniation to his lumbar spine. Lage sued Gonzalez and Gonzalez’s employer, Gardner Trucking Inc., which was doing business as RJ Lanting Hay Dealer. Lage alleged that Gonzalez was negligent in the operation of the tractor-trailer and that Gardner Trucking was vicariously liable for Gonzalez’s actions. The defendants stipulated to negligence. Thus, the matter proceeded through litigation on the issues of causation and damages., Lage claimed that he experienced lower back pain and radicular pain in his left leg and ankle following the accident. He subsequently presented to a chiropractor, whom he treated for eight months. During that time, Lage presented to an orthopedic surgeon, who, via MRI studies, diagnosed him with an L4-5 herniation. Lage also treated with three epidural injections at the L3-4, L4-5 and L5-S1 levels. No further treatment was administered. Lage claimed that he continues to experience pain in his lower back and left leg, which interferes with his work and sleep. He claimed that as a result, he missed 31 full days of work and 46 half days. Lage further claimed that since he is a commercial driver, he can only treat with over-the-counter pain medication. The plaintiff’s orthopedic surgeon detailed in his report that Lage requires an L4-5 anterior and posterior fusion and fixation (with decompression and a pedicle screw fixation at L4-5), in addition to an anterior lumbar discectomy at L4-5 with a peak-cage fixation and bone-morphogenic protein. The estimated cost for the surgery was about $200,000. In addition, plaintiff’s counsel maintained that following the surgeries, Lage would miss six to eight months from work and incur approximately $86,000 in lost wages. Thus, Lage sought recovery of about $57,000 in past medical costs, $24,401.16 in past lost earnings, about $200,000 in future medical costs, $86,000 in future lost earnings, and unspecified amounts in non-economic damages for his past and future pain and suffering. The defense’s orthopedic surgery expert maintained that Lage’s L4-5 herniation was pre-existing in nature, as confirmed by the MRI studies, and was unaffected by the accident. Thus, the expert concluded that Lage suffered no residual pain and required no future treatment.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, CA

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