Case details

Rear-end accident caused spine and knee injuries: plaintiff





Result type

Not present

back, epidural injections, knee, neck
On Feb. 3, 2010, at approximately 3 p.m., plaintiff Hari Pal, 67, a self-employed auto mechanic, was driving in moderate traffic on eastbound Pico Boulevard in West Los Angeles when he was rear-ended by a vehicle operated by Sheridan Sarnelle. Pal claimed to his neck, back and right knee. Pal sued Sheridan Sarnelle and the believed owner of her vehicle, Valerie Sarnelle. Pal alleged that Sheridan Sarnelle was negligent in the operation of her vehicle and that Valerie Sarnelle was vicariously liable for Sheridan Sarnelle’s actions. Sheridan Sarnelle admitted liability for the accident, and the matter proceeded to a trial on causation and damages., Within one week of the accident, Pal started treatment with a chiropractor for neck and lower back pain. He claimed the accident also exacerbated pre-existing tri-compartmental arthritis and diffuse meniscal tearing in his right knee. Pal subsequently went to his chiropractor 27 times, over five months, for treatment of his spinal pain and, one year after the accident, he started a series of three lumbar epidural injections with a pain management specialist. The plaintiff’s expert orthopedist opined that the accident caused a FLAP tear, which increased Pal’s knee pain. Thus, Pal underwent arthroscopic surgery six months after the accident. Pal claimed he suffers from mild residual knee and lower back pain, but does not currently seek any further treatment. Thus, he sought recovery of $8,000 in lost earnings due to missed work for treatment and doctor appointments; $65,015 in past medical costs; and an unspecified amount of damages for his pain and suffering. Defense counsel disputed Pal’s alleged and damages. The defense’s orthopedic expert testified that the blow to Pal’s right knee did not worsen its already worn condition and while the arthroscopy may have temporarily improved the condition, it did nothing to improve Pal’s prognosis, as he had no cartilage left between his knee bones. Thus, defense counsel argued that Pal required a total knee replacement due to the knee’s pre-existing condition, regardless of the subject accident. The defense’s orthopedic expert further testified that the lumbar epidural injections were not needed because Pal’s chiropractor had previously declared Pal back to his pre-accident condition. In addition, the expert testified that the injections were not needed because Pal had no radicular symptoms, which is a prerequisite condition for an epidural injection to have any benefit beyond the temporary benefit of the cortisone injection.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Santa Monica, CA

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