Case details

U-turn crash caused chronic whiplash injury, plaintiff claimed





Result type

Not present

back, lordosis, lordosis neck, neck, whiplash
On Oct. 12, 2016, plaintiff Marcela Mejia, 30, a behavioral interventionist, was driving on the westbound side of Lone Quail Road, in San Diego. Her sport utility vehicle struck the side door of a minivan operated by Anna Vu, who was attempting a U-turn from a parking spot on the side of the eastbound lane of traffic. Vu pulled out of the parking space in an attempt to make a U-turn so that she could travel west, but her minivan ended up directly in the path of Mejia’s SUV. The impact caused the air bags in both vehicles to deploy. Mejia claimed an injury to her neck. Mejia sued Vu, alleging that Vu was negligent in the operation of her minivan. Mejia specifically claimed that Vu caused the crash by making an illegal U-turn. Vu admitted liability, and the trial addressed causation and damages., Mejia claimed she suffered a chronic cervical whiplash trauma that disrupted the cervical lordosis, which is the normal curvature of the spine’s cervical region. At the time of the accident, Mejia was on her way to her mother’s house to breastfeed her newborn baby. After the crash, Mejia continued to her mom’s home and fed her baby. Mejia’s sister then took her to a local emergency room, where Mejia was treated and released. She then underwent several years of conservative treatment. Specifically, Mejia initially received two months of physical therapy, four weeks of chiropractic care, one year of acupuncture and 10 sessions of water physical therapy. Some of her treatment overlapped. She also had one appointment with a neurologist and saw a neurosurgeon nine times between early 2017 and October 2018. Mejia was then administered epidural injections of a steroid-based painkiller in June 2018 and August 2018, and returned to the chiropractor for further treatment in October 2018 and February 2019. Mejia claimed that she can no longer ride her bicycle or go to the gym as much as she did before the crash. She also claimed that her injury and treatment affected her ability to take care of her child. Mejia further claimed that her continued pain affects her ability to perform her physically demanding job, where she works with special needs children. The plaintiff’s expert orthopedic surgeon opined that Mejia will need continued pain management treatment in the future. The doctor specifically opined that the Mejia will require a series of three facet block injections to her neck annually or semiannually. Mejia sought recovery of past and future medical expenses, and damages for her past and future pain and suffering. The defense’s expert radiologist opined that Mejia’s X-rays did not show any acute . As a result, defense counsel argued that there were no herniations or bulges visible in her spine, and implied that Mejia’s were physical manifestations of her pre-existing anxiety. The defense’s expert neurosurgeon opined that Mejia sustained, at most, a sprain or strain that should have resolved in eight to 12 weeks. As a result, the expert opined that while the prices of Mejia’s ER trip, chiropractic treatment and physical therapy appointments were reasonable, the price of Mejia’s pain management treatment was excessive. Defense counsel further noted that plaintiff’s counsel referred Mejia to all of her doctors and that those doctors had signed liens saying that they wouldn’t get paid for their services until the lawsuit settled or a judgment was issued. In addition, defense counsel pointed out that Mejia had sustained a prior, work-related injury to her back, for which she treated for more than two years. As a result, defense counsel implied that Mejia had a history of over-treating her . In response, Mejia’s counsel disputed defense counsel’s implication that Mejia’s were physical manifestations of her pre-existing anxiety, and maintained that Mejia was never diagnosed with anxiety.
Superior Court of San Diego County, San Diego, CA

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