Case details

Rear-end collision exacerbated prior jaw injury, plaintiff claimed





Result type

Not present

head, headaches, nerve, neurological, temporomandibular joint, TMJ
On Nov. 22, 2010, at approximately 1:30 p.m., plaintiff Rita Farkas, 64, a casino worker/actress, was driving in Escondido when she attempted to merge onto Interstate 5 and was rear-ended by a vehicle operated by Hunter Erkenbeck. Farkas claimed to her neck, back, and jaw. Farkas sued Erkenbeck and the owner of Erkenbeck’s vehicle, Shauna Buffington. Farkas alleged that Erkenbeck was negligent in the operation of his vehicle and that Buffington was vicariously liable for Erkenbeck’s actions. Buffington was ultimately dismissed from the action, since Erkenbeck was an insured on the vehicle. Erkenbeck admitted liability for the accident, claiming he disengaged his brake and allow his vehicle to roll into Farkas’ vehicle. However, he disputed the severity of the impact. The matter subsequently proceeded to a trial on causation and damages., Three weeks after the accident, Farkas presented to her primary care physician with complaints of pain to her neck, lower back, and jaw. She was subsequently diagnosed with soft-tissue strains and sprains of her neck and back, and followed up with a dentist to treat an exacerbation of a temporomandibular joint injury. Farkas then followed up with an oral surgeon and was fitted with an appliance for her jaw. Farkas claimed that while her neck and back have resolved, she developed trigeminal neuralgia, causing further pain and discomfort in her jaw, as well as headaches. She claimed that as a result, she requires further treatment and appliances to treat her jaw condition. Thus, Farkas sought recovery of $60,000 in total damages, including $15,500 in past medical costs, and an unspecified amount for her future medical costs and pain and suffering. Defense counsel argued that the accident was of such minor impact — resulting in no damage to Farkas’ vehicle — that it was not a substantial factor in causing Farkas any serious injury. Counsel also argued that Farkas had a 20-year history of jaw problems, and that her TMJ and trigeminal neuralgia were pre-existing and pre-diagnosed conditions not causally related to the subject accident.
Superior Court of San Diego County, San Diego, CA

Recommended Experts


Get a FREE consultation for your case