Claimant passenger not wearing seat belt when car hit by underinsured motorist. Arb award of $809K.

Summary

Twenty percent contributory negligence assigned to claimant.

The Case

  • Case Name: Renzo Tarazona v. Indian Harbor Insurance Company
  • Court and Case Number: Judicate West Arbitration
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Thursday, May 27, 2021
  • Date Action was Filed: Wednesday, September 23, 2020
  • Type of Action: Underinsured Motorist, Highlighted Verdicts
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Robert M. Bennett
  • Plaintiffs:
    Renzo Tarazona
  • Defendants:
    Indian Harbor Insurance Company
  • Type of Result: Arbitration Award

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $1,011,800
  • Net Verdict or Award: $809,440
  • Settlement Amount: $15,000 with underinsured driver (in addition to arb award)
  • Contributory/Comparative Negligence: Claimant: 20%; Respondent: 80%
  • Economic Damages:

    After 20% contributory negligence:

    Past medical: $163,000

    Future medical: $388,800

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    After 20% contributory negligence:

    Non-economic damages: $460,000

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 5 days
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Memorandum of costs for $100,000 to $200,000 of costs by claimant to be filed. Respondent intends to file a motion to tax costs and is considering a motion to vacate the arbitrator’s award based upon the arbitrator’s bias and failure to consider material evidence.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Wilshire Law Firm by Jonathan C. Teller, Los Angeles.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Selman Breitman LLP by Todd R. Haas, San Diego.

    Selman Breitman LLP by Ryan M. Sellers, Santa Ana.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Jan Roughan, life care planning.

    Todd Gravori, M.D., neurosurgery.

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Michael Weinstein, M.D., orthopedic surgery.

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Rami Hashish, PhD, DPT, biomechanics.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    Bryan C. Randles, M.S., biomechanics.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On June 14, 2019, claimant, Renzo Tarazona, 30 years old, was a passenger in a car driven by a rideshare company driver, who was attempting to make a left turn from Artesia Blvd to Normandie Blvd in the city of Gardena. At the same time, an underinsured driver, drove through a red light at the intersection, causing the subject collision. Claimant was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the subject collision.

    Claimant settled with the underinsured driver and sought the remaining UIM policy limit from his own insurer, Indian Harbor Insurance Company. 

     

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That subject collision caused injury to claimant.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Respondent argued claimant’s failure to wear his seatbelt was a substantial factor in his injuries, and argued that the shoulder injury would not have occurred if claimant had been wearing his seat belt.  

    Respondent also argued that the need for claimant’s surgeries was not caused by the accident, but conceded that if the injuries were caused by the accident, claimant would need a future adjacent level cervical fusion surgery. 

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Claimant was taken to the hospital. He sustained a disc protrusion at C6-7 and claimed pain to his shoulder. He underwent a cervical fusion surgery at C6-C7 and a shoulder arthroscopic surgery. Claimant claims he has ongoing pain that comes and goes in his neck. He claims he will require future medical care, including follow up with orthopedic, pain management, chiropractor/physical therapy, imagings and a future cervical spine surgery for adjacent segment disease.

     

  • Claimant sought recovery for his past and future pain and suffering and past and future medical costs. Claimant claimed he was unable to continue working full time because of the severe pain he suffered, and claimed past lost earnings and future lost earnings as he became dependent on his mother for virtually all support. 

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $163,000
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: $388,800

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff Final Demand before Trial: $684,999
  • Defendant Final Offer before Trial: $458,000

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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