Case details

Rear-end collision caused lumbar injury, plaintiff claimed





Result type

Not present

back, herniated disc
On Aug. 8, 2009, plaintiff Martin Villegas, 48, a self-employed tile refinisher, was driving his minivan on Crenshaw Boulevard in Inglewood, accompanied by his son, Martin Villegas Jr., 5, seated in the rear in a booster seat. While stopped for a red light at the intersection of West Imperial Highway, the minivan was rear-ended by a sport utility vehicle operated by Lola Harris-Lasos. Villegas claimed to his neck, back and shoulders, while his son did not sustain any personal injury. Villegas and his son sued Harris-Lasos. They alleged the defendant was negligent in the operation of her vehicle. Specifically, Villegas claimed that Harris-Lasos was inattentive while approaching stopped traffic at the subject intersection. Martin, thought his father, reached a confidential settlement with Harris-Lasos, who admitted liability for the accident. Thus, the matter proceeded to trial on Villegas’ claims against Harris-Lasos only., Twelve days after the accident, Villegas went to a chiropractor with complaints of pain to his neck, back and shoulders. He was subsequently referred to an orthopedic surgeon and underwent an MRI, which revealed abnormalities at L5-S1. Villegas treated his with four months of chiropractic care. He also underwent a neurological evaluation and EMG tests. Villegas claimed he still experiences significant limitations in his lower back, which has made his job increasing difficult. The plaintiff’s treating neurology expert testified that Villegas is a candidate for lumbar surgery at the L5-S1 level, which Villegas was still considering at the time of trial due to costs. Thus, Villegas sought recovery of damages, including $17,067 in past medical costs, $120,000 in future medical costs, and an unspecified amount for his pain and suffering. Defense counsel argued that Villegas did not sustain any major injury from the accident, but only sustained minor soft-tissue strains and sprains that should have resolved after 20 chiropractic visits. Counsel also argued that Villegas did not require any lower back surgery, but if it was determined that he did need surgery, it was related to a motor vehicle accident that occurred 20 years prior to the subject accident, which resulted in Villegas undergoing back surgery.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Torrance, CA

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