Case details

Plaintiff: Treatment necessary for resolution of symptoms





Result type

Not present

back, neck, sprains, strains
On May 12, 2011, plaintiff Katherine Rutledge, 39, a nutritional aide for the Chula Vista School District, was driving east on Telegraph Canyon Road in Chula Vista when her vehicle was struck head-on by a vehicle operated by Tara Schmidt. Schmidt was coming off of the southbound 805 Freeway off-ramp when her slipper got stuck under the accelerator. As a result, Schmidt’s vehicle entered the intersection of L Street and Telegraph Canyon Road at 30 mph, against the red light, and then went over the center divider and struck Rutledge’s vehicle. Rutledge sued Schmidt, alleging that Schmidt was negligent in the operation of her vehicle. Schmidt conceded liability, and the matter proceeded to an expedited jury trial., Rutledge left the scene after the accident and, later that day, her dad took her to a hospital a half mile away. Rutledge claimed strains to her neck and back, and was treated in the emergency room. She then treated her pain with Vicodin for two months and had follow-up physical therapy for eight visits. Rutledge claimed she missed 1.5 months of work and then her employer called to say that if she could not get a doctor’s clearance to come back to work, they would have to fill her position. She alleged that as a result, she told her primary care physician that she was fine two months after the accident in order to get the return to work slip even though she still had significant neck and back pain. Rutledge testified at trial that she told her doctor that she was fine, even though she was not, because she needed to keep her job in order to help support her family. However, despite going back to work after two months, Rutledge claimed that her symptoms all resolved within a year after the accident. Defense counsel argued that the extent of Rutledge’s treatment was excessive.
Superior Court of San Diego County, San Diego, CA

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