Case details

U-turn crash caused spinal injuries, plaintiff alleged





Result type

Not present

back, bulging disc, cervical, lumbar neck, neck
On Jan. 3, 2018, plaintiff Silvino Lopez, 60, a gardener, was driving west on Francisquito Avenue, in Baldwin Park, when his vehicle struck the driver’s side door of a vehicle operated by Alfredo Santiago, who pulled away from the westbound curb of Francisquito Avenue and attempted to make a U-turn onto eastbound Francisquito Avenue. Lopez claimed to his neck and back. Lopez sued Alfredo Santiago and the registered owner of Alfredo Santiago’s vehicle, Jorge Santiago. Lopez alleged that Alfredo Santiago was negligent in the operation of his vehicle and that Jorge Santiago was vicariously liable for Alfredo Santiago’s actions. Jorge Santiago was ultimately dismissed from the case. Plaintiff’s counsel contended that Alfredo Santiago was negligent for making a U-turn from the westbound curb in an attempt to go east on Francisquito Avenue. Counsel also contended that Santiago was negligent for making a U-turn in front of oncoming traffic when it was unsafe to do so. Alfredo Santiago did not dispute liability., Lopez complained of neck and back pain at the scene. He was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where he was treated and released later that day, as he had no fractures. Lopez’s MRI showed bulging cervical discs at the C2-3, C3-4, C4-5, C5-6 and C6-7 levels, as well as bulging lumbar discs at the L1-2, L2-3, L3-4, L4-5 and L5-S1 levels, with the L3-4 bulging being an annual fissure bulge and the most concerning being the 8 millimeter disc bulge at L5-S1. Lopez underwent chiropractic care from Jan. 9, 2018 to April 10, 2018. He also received one epidural injection from his treating orthopedic surgery expert. Lopez claimed that he had no medical records with any back problems prior to the subject accident and that he now suffers from ongoing pain to his lower back. He alleged that he had to stop working as a gardener because of his back injury and prior, unrelated heart condition. He also alleged that he could no longer continue to live in Los Angeles because of the cost of living there while unemployed and that he had to relocate to Tennessee, where he went to live with his daughter. Lopez claimed that his treating orthopedic surgery expert suggested that he receive two more epidural injections to treat his lower back pain. The plaintiff’s treating orthopedic surgery expert opined that Lopez would need three future epidural injections, which he priced at $10,000 to $15,000 per shot. The expert also opined that Lopez’s back were related to the impact of the subject accident. Lopez sought recovery of past and future medical costs, and damages for his past and future pain and suffering. (He did not seek recovery for his loss of earnings.) Defense counsel argued that Lopez’s back problems were caused by his physical lifestyle as a gardener and that Lopez only had soft tissue . Counsel contended that there were too many bulging discs on the MRI to be caused by the subject accident. The defense’s expert orthopedic surgeon opined that Lopez’s back were not related to the subject accident and that one epidural injection should only cost $4,000.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, CA

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