Case details

Plaintiff’s inattention caused collision, defense argued





Result type

Not present

back, carpal tunnel syndrome, hands, herniated disc, lower back, neck, neurological, radiculopathy, right knee, wrist
On May 1, 2009, plaintiff Andrea Urbas, 52, an urban planner, was operating her vehicle in the westbound number four (slow) lane of Interstate 10, in Redlands. At the same time, a tractor-trailer pulling a wide load and operated by James Shelton was traveling in the number three lane. A sideswipe collision ultimately occurred between Urbas’ vehicle and Shelton’s tractor-trailer, causing Urbas’ vehicle to spin around. Urbas claimed to her hands, right knee, neck, and back. Urbas sued Shelton and the owner of the tractor-trailer, Shelton’s employer, Lone Star Transportation. Urbas alleged that Shelton was negligent in the operation of the tractor-trailer and that Lone Star Transportation was vicariously liable for Shelton’s actions. Urbas claimed that Shelton’s tractor-trailer entered her lane from the number three lane, causing the collision with her vehicle. She also claimed that Shelton was in the wrong lane, as his tractor-trailer should have been in the number two lane. Defense counsel argued that Shelton never left his lane of travel and that, instead, Urbas was distracted, causing Urbas’ vehicle to come into Shelton’s lane. Counsel contended that Urbas was on her way to her father’s nursing home to pick up his belongings due to his failing health and that Urbas was consequently distracted and drifted into Shelton’s lane, striking the tractor-trailer. In addition, defense counsel noted that Urbas claimed that there were four impacts between her vehicle and the tractor-trailer and that she never saw the tractor-trailer until the second impact. Thus, defense counsel argued that Urbas’ claim of not seeing the tractor-trailer until the second impact proved that Urbas was not paying attention., Urbas claimed she suffered an injury to her right knee; herniations of her L4-5 and L5-S1 intervertebral discs; a crush injury to her back, causing the nerve damage at C5-6; and crush to her hands, causing bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome. She also claimed she developed radiculopathy that stemmed from the cervical region as a result of the C5-6 nerve damage, as well as suffered fibromyalgia, a medical condition characterized by widespread pain, diffuse tenderness, and a number of other symptoms. Urbas first sought treatment the day after the accident, when she presented to her chiropractor. To treat her alleged knee injury, she received Synvisc-One injections — injections that supplement the fluid in the knee to help lubricate and cushion the joint — and cortisone injections. Urbas claimed the injections provided her with no relief and that she will eventually require knee surgery. She also claimed that she is left with fibromyalgia, bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome, and radiculopathy. She alleged that as a result of the radiculopathy, she is limited in walking and cannot sit/stand or drive for extended periods of time. Although she claimed no loss of earnings, Urbas alleged that her have impacted her work and daily life. The plaintiff’s neurology and orthopedic surgery experts related all of Urbas’ to the subject accident. They also testified that nothing in Urbas’ medical records showed that she had any complaints prior to the subject accident. The defense’s neurology and orthopedic surgery experts opined that Urbas’ knee injury and bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome were not related to the accident, as there was no mechanism of injury. They also disagreed that Urbas suffered double crush syndrome. However, the defense’s experts agreed that Urbas had minor sprains/strains to the cervical and lumbar levels, as well as to her right knee, but opined that these should have resolved within three to six months of the subject accident.
Superior Court of San Bernardino County, San Bernardino, CA

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