Physically active woman is rear-ended by truck. Liability admitted but defense disputes the lower back injury and future medical claim.
Past wage loss: $16,045
Past medical cost: $99,428.47
Future medical cost: $903,753.26
Past pain and suffering: $125,000
Future pain and suffering: $1,750,000
Dreyer, Babich, Buccola Wood & Campora, LLP by Jason J. Sigel and Ryan L. Dostart, Sacramento.
Lewis, Brisbois, Bisgaard & Smith by Joseph A. Salazar, Jr. and Joann M.O. Rangel, Sacramento.
Carol Hyland, MA, MS, cost of medical care, Lafayette.
Stephen Longoria, DDS, dentistry, Folsom.
Ardavan Aslie, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Sacramento.
Vinay Reddy, M.D., pain management, Sacramento.
Edward Younger, III, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Sacramento.
On April 15, 2013, plaintiff was in her vehicle stopped for traffic on Hazel Avenue, north of its intersection with Greenback Lane, in Sacramento County. Charles Scheulke, driving a Ford F-250 pickup hauling two tons of equipment on a trailer, was in the course and scope of his employment for defendant Bassco Services, Inc. northbound on Hazel Avenue.
Defendant driver failed to stop for the traffic in front of him and collided with the rear of plaintiff’s vehicle. As a result of the accident, plaintiff sustained injuries to her teeth, face, neck, shoulders, back, hips, and knees.
That the negligent driving of Bassco employee caused the accident and all of plaintiff's claimed injuries.
In response to defense contentions, plaintiff argued that her low back complaints started soon after the accident despite their absence from the initial medical records. She also claimed that she would require future pain management epidural injection therapy and a future L5-S1 global fusion surgery.
Bradley argued that she was unable to return to her pre-accident activities, including trail-running, hiking, and weight-lifting. Plaintiff did not present a claim for future lost wages or loss of earning capacity.
Bassco conceded that the dental and facial injuries were related to the collision but argued that Bradley’s orthopedic injuries were not caused in the accident.
At trial, defendant employer Bassco stressed the fact that no low back complaints were documented in the ambulance report and emergency room records on the day of the accident. Low back complaints were not mentioned in the primary care and physical therapy records until six weeks after the accident.
Bassco conducted over 60 hours of surveillance of plaintiff and produced video of her at the gym on an elliptical trainer, carrying bags of groceries, and taking 90-minute walks to emphasize to the jury that she was not a surgical candidate.
Defendants disputed that the need for future orthopedic medical care was caused by the collision. The defendant's orthopedic surgeon testified that he could not relate plaintiff’s low back injury, and need for surgery, to the subject accident.
Bassco also argued that plaintiff’s attorneys were the driving force behind her ongoing treatment and the future medical care that her doctors recommended – doctors to whom plaintiff was referred by her lawyers and who were treating her on a lien basis.
After the accident, plaintiff treated with her dentist, primary care physician, and physical therapist. She subsequently treated with a pain management specialist and received a consult with an orthopedic surgeon and a second opinion from a neurosurgeon.
Plaintiff underwent two bone grafts on her lower jaw followed by dental implant surgery. Ultimately, she received a permanent five-tooth prosthetic bridge.
Plaintiff also required injection therapy for her low back injury, including three lumbar spine epidural steroid injections and one round of lumbar facet injections. She also utilized anti-inflammatory medications in the years following the vehicle accident.
Plaintiff’s treating pain management doctor testified that plaintiff would require future injection therapy and her treating orthopedic surgeon testified that she would require a future global fusion at L5-S1.