Case details

Rear-end crash caused lumbar, head and elbow injuries: plaintiff




Mediated Settlement

Result type

Not present

brain, bruise, chest, concussion, head, headaches, neurological, radiculopathy, sensory, speech, tinnitus
On Nov. 10, 2009, at approximately 2:30 p.m., plaintiff Sandra Torres, 33, a Spanish interpreter and UCLA student, was driving south on Interstate 405, on her way to work in Long Beach, when she approached the Carson Street off-ramp and was rear-ended by a pickup truck operated by Jay Bittner. Torres claimed to her chest, thigh, head, neck and back as a result of the accident. Torres sued Bittner, alleging the defendant was negligent in the operation of his vehicle. Torres claimed that as she approached the Carson Street off-ramp, traffic slowed down to a complete stop. However, she claimed that Bittner was driving too fast for the traffic conditions, in violation of Vehicle Code § 22350, and failed to slow or stop his vehicle in time to avoid a rear-end collision. Torres alleged the impact caused her body to jolt forward into the steering wheel and then back into the headrest. She also alleged that her vehicle sustained major rear-end damage, as the trunk was severely dented, while Bittner’s truck sustained only minor front-end damage. Bittner did not dispute liability for the accident., Torres was taken from the scene of the accident by ambulance and brought to an emergency room with complaints of neck and right leg pain, as well as headaches and dizziness. She was subsequently diagnosed with contusions of the chest wall and thigh. Torres then followed up with some physical therapy. In November 2010, Torres was diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome, lumbar radiculitis, and lateral epicondylitis, also known as tennis elbow. She subsequently treated with chiropractic care and acupuncture due to ongoing complaints of pain and spasms in her neck and back, radiating into her arms and legs. Torres claimed suffered bouts of headaches, dizziness and ringing in her ears (tinnitus), but the conditions resolved approximately two years after the accident. However, she claimed she continues to deal with residual neck and back pain, radiating into her arms and feet, for which she is receiving ongoing treatment. She claimed that as a result, she will require future care consisting of epidural and trigger point injections. Thus, Torres sought recovery of $39,341.81 in past medical costs, $8,000 in past lost earnings for two months of missed work, and unspecified amounts of future economic damages and damages for her past and future pain and suffering. Defense counsel noted that Torres asked for $38,208 for her lost earnings, covering missed work from Nov. 9, 2009, through Jan. 4, 2010, and Oct. 20, 2010, through April 17, 2011. Counsel also noted that Torres alleged that following the accident, she was unable to complete her course work at UCLA for the remainder of the semester and was unable to complete her degree as expected. However, defense counsel disputed Torres’ alleged damages, asserting that Torres did not sustain any serious injury from the accident. Specifically, counsel asserted that Torres’ alleged tinnitus condition was not related to the rear-ender. Defense counsel contended that Torres’ medical records showed that she had a long history of complaints involving her neck and back, as well as numbness in her upper and lower extremities, headaches and dizziness. Counsel also contended that Torres complained of chronic neck and back pain two months before the subject accident. In addition, defense counsel contended that Torres underwent one month of physical therapy following the accident and did not seek any further treatment until November 2010, when she met with an attorney-referred physician.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Compton, CA

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