On Friday, June 3, 2016, a Sacramento County jury returned a personal injury verdict of $2,894,226.73 for injuries suffered by the plaintiff in an April 15, 2013 automobile collision.
Plaintiff was represented by attorneys Jason Sigel and Ryan Dostart of Dreyer Babich Buccola Wood Campora, LLP. Defendant was represented by Joe Salazar and Joann Rangel of Lewis Brisbois Bisgard & , LLP.
The plaintiff was 26 when the accident happened. She was rear-ended by a driver in the course and scope of his employment driving a Ford F-250 pickup pulling 1,800 pounds of equipment on a trailer. The impact pushed plaintiff into the car in front of her hard enough to deploy the airbag. During the frontal impact, she hit her face on the bag/steering wheel and ended up losing the five front teeth in her lower jaw and having a big scar under her lower her lip where she bit through it. Being unable to hide from that injury, the defense finally admitted liability a week before trial and agreed to the past and future dental damages, which totaled approximately $32,000.
However, the defense contested the low back injury despite an MRI of her low back, taken 15 months after the accident that showed a single level of damage at L5/S1. The plaintiff was an extremely active young woman who regularly ran 8-12 miles a couple of times per week and worked out regularly at the gym lifting weights before the accident. The defense used this against her by saying these intense activities could have led to degeneration in the low back, which plaintiff’s doctors could not completely rule out. Since the accident plaintiff has not returned to running or weightlifting but the defense conducted over 60 hours of surveillance and showed the jury video of plaintiff in the gym on the elliptical machine and going on 3-mile walks.
Plaintiff’s doctors had prescribed additional pain management injections as well as recommended a future L5-S1 global fusion surgery. The defense medical examiner disputed that the collision caused the low back injury and testified that the recommended pain management care and future surgery were medically unwarranted.
After a two-week trial, the jury awarded all requested past medical specials of $115,000 and future medical damages of approximately $893,000, including the requested pain management care as well as the future surgery. Pain and suffering damages of $125,000 past and $1,750,000 future were also awarded.