Case details

Underinsured motorist caused ongoing pain: passenger





Result type

Not present

bulging disc, cervical, cervical shoulder, fusion, neck
On June 14, 2019, claimant Renzo Tarazona, 28, was an restrained passenger in a rideshare vehicle. As his driver was attempting to make a left turn from Artesia Boulevard onto Normandie Boulevard, in Gardena, the vehicle was broadsided by an underinsured driver, who drove through a red light at the intersection. Tarazona claimed to his neck and right shoulder. The insurer for the driver of the other vehicle tendered its $15,000 policy. Tarazona sought further recovery via the supplementary-underinsured-motorist provision of his own insurance policy, which was administered by Indian Harbor Insurance Co. The matter proceeded to arbitration, and several motions in limine were filed., Tarazona sustained a cervical disc protrusion at the C6-7 level, as well as claimed pain to his right shoulder. He was taken to a hospital, and eventually underwent a cervical fusion at the C6-7 level. He also underwent arthroscopic surgery with decompression to repair a tear to his right shoulder. Tarazona claimed he has ongoing neck pain that comes and goes. He alleged that as a result of his severe pain, he was unable to continue working full time and became dependent on his mother for virtually all support. Tarazona also alleged that he will require future medical care, which would include follow-up orthopedic care, pain management, chiropractic care and/or physical therapy, imaging, and surgery to his cervical spine to treat adjacent segment disease. Tarazona sought recovery of $10,266,803.92 to $10,787,843.90 in total damages. Specifically, he sought recovery of $261,893.25 in past medical expenses, $2,922,627 to $3,443,667 in future medical costs, $39,592.07 in past loss of earnings, $42,691.60 in future loss of earning capacity, $2 million in noneconomic damages for his past pain and suffering, and $5 million in noneconomic damages for his future pain and suffering. The respondent’s counsel argued that Tarazona’s failure to wear his seatbelt was a substantial factor in causing his and that the shoulder injury would not have occurred if Tarazona was wearing his seat belt. Counsel also argued that the need for Tarazona’s surgeries were not caused by the accident, but conceded that if the were caused by the accident, Tarazona would need a future adjacent level cervical fusion. According to the respondent’s counsel, it was revealed during the first motion in limine that the arbitrator and Tarazona’s counsel had ex parte communications relating to the case. The respondent’s counsel also noted that, during the arbitration, the arbitrator excluded expert testimony relating to the seat belt defense and that, later, he reconsidered his ruling and offered to declare a mistrial.
Judicate West, CA

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