Case details

Sudden lane change caused collision, motorcyclist claimed





Result type

Not present

arm, fracture
On Oct. 23, 2012, at approximately 8:05 a.m., plaintiff Ruben Barajas, 26, a student/health club service representative, was riding his motorcycle on southbound State Route 57, also known as Orange Freeway, when he was involved in a collision 330 feet north of Diamond Bar Boulevard, in the city of Diamond Bar in Los Angeles County. After colliding with the vehicle operated by Ronald Edward Vacovsky, Barajas fell to the roadway and sustained a severe neck injury, resulting in tetraplegia, as well as an amputation of his right big toe and fractures to his right arm. Barajas sued Vacovsky and the owner of Vacovsky’s vehicle, Diane Cassis. Barajas alleged that Vacovsky was negligent in the operation of his vehicle and that Cassis was vicariously liable for Vacovsky’s actions. Barajas contended that he was traveling to the right of the carpool lane on southbound SR-57 when he attempted to pass Vacovsky’s vehicle on the left. However, he claimed that as he was passing the vehicle, Vacovsky made a sudden move to the left in order to enter the carpool lane and struck his motorcycle. Barajas claimed Vacovsky’s sudden and unexpected maneuver was negligent and resulted in the crash. Vacovsky contended that Barajas was moving from lane to lane, without warning, and traveling at a speed that was unsafe for the conditions that existed at the time of the incident., Barajas was taken from the scene of the accident by ambulance and brought to an emergency room. He sustained severe damage of the cervical spine at the C3-4 level, resulting in tetraplegia, also known as quadriplegia. Barajas also suffered a crush injury of the big toe on his right foot, and fractures of the right arm’s radial styloid and mid-diaphyseal of the ulna. He subsequently underwent numerous surgeries on his cervical spine, as well as surgery to repair the fractures in his right arm and a surgical amputation of his right big toe. He then followed up with physical therapy. Barajas contended that following his surgeries, he was able to walk independently again, but has diminished strength in his right arm, no function in his right hand or fingers, and is essentially paralyzed from his right hand up to his elbow. He also contended that while he can walk, the loss of his right big toe causes an imbalance. Barajas claimed that as a result, he is stronger on his left side, but has more sensation on his right. He also claimed he cannot feel hot or cold on either side, and has atrophy of his left leg, severe muscles spasms in his hips when rising up, tingling pins and needles sensation to various body parts, and muscle loss on his right shoulder, revealing bone. Barajas further claimed that he has residual scars, including a long scar from his neck to his upper back, another scar along the right side of his neck, and another scar on his right lower arm. Barajas alleged that he is hoping to return to work at some point, but did not seek lost earnings. He also alleged that he continues to receive ongoing outpatient treatment, but that he might eventually require additional surgeries. Thus, Barajas sought in excess of $1.13 million for past medical costs and an unspecified amount for future medical costs. He also sought recovery of an unspecified amount of damages for his pain and suffering. Defense counsel did not seriously dispute the severity and treatment of Barajas’ alleged .
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, CA

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