Case details

Plaintiff’s knee condition was degenerative, defense claimed





Result type

Not present

knee, meniscus, tear
On Feb. 16, 2010, plaintiff Silvia Hernandez, 52, a lunch truck worker, was a passenger in a Toyota operated by her husband that was traveling eastbound Slauson Avenue in Pico Rivera when their vehicle collided with a tractor-trailer at the intersection with Crossway Drive. The driver of the tractor-trailer, Miguel Gonzalez, was traveling westbound on Slauson Avenue when the Hernandez’s vehicle attempted a left turn in front of it. Hernandez’s head subsequently struck the window in the accident and she claimed an injury to her knee. Hernandez sued Gonzalez, alleging that the defendant was negligent in the operation of the tractor-trailer. Hernandez’s husband contended that he was in the intersection waiting for the light to turn from yellow to red so that he could complete his left turn, but that he did not anticipate Gonzalez to keep proceeding forward into the intersection after the light was red. However, Hernandez claimed that her husband was behind the limit line and that he did not begin executing his left turn until the light turned red. Gonzalez contended that the light was green when he approached the intersection, but that it changed to yellow. However, he claimed that since he was operating a fully loaded tractor-trailer that weighed about 80,000 pounds, he could not stop it in time prior to the collision., Hernandez was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where she informed the physician that her knee hit something. She was subsequently examined and found to have sustained a hematoma on her head from hitting the window in the vehicle, but her CT scan was normal and she walked fine. She later saw a chiropractor, went for an MRI and then presented to another physician for a checkup. Hernandez’s first noted knee complaint with the chiropractor was two months after the accident, and only came up on two simultaneous visits. She claimed that her knee pain lasted for a few weeks and then did not return until 1.5 years later. Thus, two years after the accident, Hernandez claimed multiple meniscal tears. The plaintiff’s treating orthopedic surgery expert opined that the tears were caused by the crash. Plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury to award Hernandez $280,000 in total damages. The defense’s orthopedic surgery expert opined that the tears could only be degenerative, as Hernandez only complained of pain two years after the accident, instead of instantaneously.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Norwalk, CA

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