Case details

Triathlete: Cervical injuries affects her ability to compete





Result type

Not present

bulging disc, cervical, neck
On Dec. 27, 2009, claimant Emi Umezawa, 27, a triathlete, was rear-ended on U.S. Route 101 North in the San Fernando Valley. She claimed neck from the collision. The other driver’s insurance carrier tendered its policy limits. Umezawa then sought further recovery via the supplementary-underinsured-motorist provision of her own insurance policy, which was administered by Commerce West Insurance Co. Commerce initially denied the claim, and the matter proceeded to arbitration., Umezawa claimed she suffered a neck and upper back in the collision that precluded her from looking up or turning her head. However, she was not taken to a hospital or treated at the scene, but later underwent an MRI, which showed cervical disc bulges that, although not large, effaced the ventral surface of the thecal sac at C4-5, C5-6, C6-7. Prior to the accident, Umezawa was a triathlete who received a scholarship from the University of California, Santa Barbara, to play water polo. Upon graduation with a double major, she became employed with a wealth management company and began training and participating in triathlons. After the collision, Umezawa claimed her ability to swim was cut in half, from 3000 meters to 1500 meters. She also claimed she was unable to bike and her running became limited. She alleged that as a result, she was unable to resume competitive bicycling and she was only able to run a minor amount. Umezawa claimed that after two years, her ability to train was still limited. She alleged that she was unable to regain her previous level and has not competed in a triathlon since her , even though she sought treatment with various health care providers in an effort to rehabilitate. Umezawa incurred $19,545.97 in medical costs, consisting of physical therapy, chiropractic treatment and acupuncture with later supervision by her treating expert. Umezawa was also evaluated for epidural and proliferant therapy injections to the neck. Both of the plaintiff’s experts opined that injections to the neck were reasonable. Umezawa also demanded, amongst other damages, $2,063.40 in past loss of earnings. She also requested and received a $5,000 medical payment waiver, and requested that it be applied in the uninsured motorist claim. Respondent’s counsel contended that Umezawa’s treatment was excessive and that her alleged medical damages should be reduced per Howell. Counsel also requested an offset for medical payments.
Arbitration Company, CA

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