Hit-and-run motorist leaves bicycle rider with spinal injuries. $3.1 million arb award. Los Angeles County.

Summary

Bicycle rider is hit on city street by motorist who flees the scene.  After driver turns herself in, she disputes the extent of injuries.

The Case

  • Case Name: Livingston v. Chin
  • Court and Case Number: Los Angeles Superior Court / SC115155
  • Date of Arbitration Award : Wednesday, August 24, 2016
  • Date Action was Filed: Wednesday, December 07, 2011
  • Type of Action: Bicycle Accident
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Darrell A. Forgey
  • Plaintiffs:
    Paul Livingston, 35, freelance drummer.
  • Defendants:
    Victoria Chin
  • Type of Result: Arbitration Award

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $3,164,895
  • Economic Damages:

    Past Medical: $464,895

    Future Medical:  $200,000

     

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    $2,500,000

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Law Offices of Otto L. Haselhoff, P.C. by Otto L. Haselhoff, Santa Monica.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Wesierski & Zurek LLP by Ronald Zurek, Los Angeles.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Stepan Kasimian, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Los Angeles.

    Dorothy Pollock, nursing / DME observation, Hacienda Heights.

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Steven Nagelberg, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Los Angeles.

    Stephen Rothman, M.D., neuroradiology, Beverly Hills.

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Stephen L. Plourd, Accident Reconstruction, San Diego.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On June 12, 2011, plaintiff, a 35-year-old male working as a freelance drummer, was operating his bicycle on or about Santa Monica Blvd., and Crescent Drive. Defendant Victoria Chin, age 24, was operating a 2010 Honda Fit, struck plaintiff’s bicycle with her vehicle, and fled the scene. 

    Within 24 hours, defendant turned herself in to the police after her friends and criminal defense lawyer told her it would look better if she turned herself in, and was eventually charged with felony hit-and-run.  (As it turned out, no eyewitness had jotted her plate number down, so had Chin not turned herself in, she might have gotten away “scott free.”) Despite an eventual guilty plea and a sentence of 120 days in jail, defendant was released after serving just one day in jail due to overcrowding.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That defendant was 100% responsible for the accident and was in violation of C.V.C. §§ 23103(a), 22350, 21750(a), 21200(a), and 20001(a).  Negligence per se applied and the criminal conviction solidified the liability.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendant did not dispute liability at arbitration, but disputed the nature and extent of damages and plaintiff’s course of treatment, including the permanence of plaintiff’s injuries, the cost of care and the necessity of further treatment, saying plaintiff made a good recovery, was not disabled, returned to an active lifestyle, and that his complaints of pain were subjective. No future care was required per opinion of defense expert Steven Nagelberg, M.D.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Spinal fractures requiring spinal fusion, multiple fractures in the pelvis requiring open reduction and internal fixation, bruising, and extended hospital stay secondary to injury. 

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $464,895
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: $263,590 to $331,150

Additional Notes

There was a stay in proceedings from May 2013 to August 2014 due to criminal proceedings against defendant relating to the incident.

Disclaimer

This is not an official court document. While the publisher believes the information to be accurate, the publisher does not guarantee it and the reader is advised not to rely upon it without consulting the official court documents or the attorneys of record in this matter who are listed above.

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