Case details

Plaintiff’s spinal injuries caused by prior crash, defense claimed





Result type

Not present

head, headaches
At approximately 12:45 p.m. on Jan. 7, 2009, plaintiff Carol Sebastiani, 49, a clerical worker, was driving east on Arden Way in Sacramento, when she broadsided a vehicle that was attempting to make a left turn in front of her from westbound Arden Way onto Sears Driveway, in order to enter the Arden Fair Mall. Sebastiani claimed to her neck and back. Sebastiani sued the vehicle’s driver, Megan Hammond, and the owners of the vehicle, Clifford and Suzanne Lester. She alleged that Hammond was negligent in the operation of her vehicle and that the Lesters were vicariously liable for Hammond’s actions. Prior to trial, the Lesters were dismissed from the case under the permissive user clause. Thus, the matter proceeded against Hammond only. The case first went to a court-ordered alternative dispute resolution, where Sebastiani was found 100 percent at fault. However, the ruling was rejected by Sebastiani, and the matter proceeded to an expedited jury trial, pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure § 630.1. During the trial, Sebastiani claimed that the light at the intersection of Arden Way and Sears Driveway was red as she approached it, but that it turned green just before she entered the intersection. She claimed that, as such, Hammond caused the accident by running a red light at the intersection. Hammond claimed that she began making a left turn onto Sears Driveway while the light at the intersection was yellow and that Sebastiani was negligent for crossing the intersection too early. The police report of the accident made no determination of fault based on a lack of independent witnesses., Sebastiani presented to her primary care physician with complaints of neck and mid/lower back pain a few days after the accident. She subsequently underwent an MRI and was diagnosed with soft-tissue . She also claimed traumatic headaches. Sebastiani then followed up with four months of chiropractic care. Sebastiani claimed that her fully resolved by the time of trial, but that she missed 52 hours of work following the accident. Thus, she asked the jury for $15,000 to $20,000 in total damages, including $7,473 for past medical costs, and an unspecified amount for her past lost earnings and pain and suffering. Defense counsel contended that Sebastiani was involved in a previous motor vehicle accident approximately one month before the accident in question. Thus, counsel argued that Sebastiani’s were related to the prior accident, noting that the plaintiff even received chiropractic care on the morning before the subject accident. Defense counsel also argued that Sebastiani only saw her primary care physician for her alleged one time, and did not follow-up as instructed.
Superior Court of Sacramento County, Sacramento, CA

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