Case details

Tractor-trailer accident caused spinal injuries, plaintiff alleged





Result type

Not present

back, bulging disc, cervical, fusion, lumbar, lumbar head, neck, neurological, radiculopathy
On Feb. 18, 2014, plaintiff Gustavo Zepeda, 40, was a passenger in a vehicle that was traveling on southbound U.S. Route 101, also known as Hollywood Freeway, in Los Angeles. As her vehicle approached the intersection with Santa Monica Boulevard, also known as state Route 2, her vehicle was rear-ended by a tractor-trailer operated by Rafael Gutierrez. Zepeda sued Rafael Gutierrez and the co-owner of the tractor-trailer, Maria Gutierrez, both of whom were doing business as R&M Trucking Inc. Zepeda alleged that Mr. Gutierrez was negligent in the operation of the tractor-trailer and that Ms. Gutierrez was vicariously liable for Mr. Gutierrez’s actions. Another motorist involved in the collision, George Amezquita, previously filed a separate suit against Rafael Gutierrez and R&M Trucking. The Zepeda matter was to be consolidated into Amezquita’s action, but Amezquita settled his claims for an undisclosed amount prior to trial. Zepeda’s counsel contended that the Gutierrez tractor-trailer did not have a single, functional brake at the time of the collision. Counsel argued that the defendants failed to maintain the tractor-trailer in proper working order, in that they failed to properly inspect, repair and/or maintain the vehicle’s braking system. The defendants conceded liability., Zepeda claimed that he sustained sprains and strains of his cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine. He also claimed he sustained protruding cervical and lumbar discs with cervical and lumbar radiculopathy, which resulted in pain to his head, neck and back. Zepeda underwent chiropractic treatment, pain management and physical therapy. He also had three epidural injections at the L5-S1 level; a lumbar laminectomy at L4, L5 and S1; bilateral foraminotomies; a posterolateral lumbar fusion; and posterior lumbar interbody fusions at L4-L5 and L5-S1. However, he claimed he continues to suffer from pain and that he will need additional treatment in the future. Zepeda sought recovery of past and future medical costs, and damages for his past and future pain and suffering. Defense counsel noted that Zepeda did not seek medical care for over three months post-collision and maintained that Zepeda had a pars defect,or spondylolysis, that was a congenital spinal issue that had been there since birth. Counsel argued that based on Zepeda’s delay in seeking medical care, all treatment and surgeries were related to the pars defect and not the subject collision.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Van Nuys, CA

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