Articles Posted in Spine Injury

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San Diego News 10 reported that 44-year-old Grant Fisher of Escondido sustained serious injuries as a result of being hit by a car on January 19, 2012. The auto accident happened when Fisher was riding in the bike lane on Sorrento Valley Boulevard during his lunch. Police reported that 76-year-old Cecilia Cueva allegedly swerved to avoid a speeding truck behind her causing her to hit Fisher. He was pinned under the vehicle, Which caused severe burns and spinal injury. Fisher was taken to Scripps Memorial Hospital where doctors said he may never walk again and will be there for the next month or longer.

Applicable California Law

California Vehicle Code 21658(a) requires the driver of a vehicle driving on a road with divided lanes not to move from their lane until it is reasonably safe to do so. Although Cueva said she never saw Fisher prior to hitting him she will still be liable for his property damage and personal injury. This would include the repair or replacement of his bicycle as well as his medical expenses, lost earnings and earning capacity as well as compensation for pain and suffering. Since Fishers long term prognosis is doubtful with respect to his ability to walk again, the adequacy of Cueva’s insurance coverage and or other assets are of particular concern (see my prior Blog post on California Law On Uninsured/Underinsured Coverage)

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A study in the Emergency Medicine Journal substantiates the fact that there is a significant impact on children who sustain whiplash injuries. There has been a long standing debate among different medical practitioners as to the affects and consequences of these injuries on children. This controversy was due to many factors, but most prominently the lack of any significant studies on these types of injuries in children. In the past, cases involving whiplash injuries in children were overlooked in part because children either lack the ability to effectively communicate their problems or do not appreciate the nature and extent of their injuries. This lack of attention would often result in them not receiving the medical attention they needed and in some cases would result in long lasting consequences. These types of spine injuries can result from a number of different types of incidents, but in many instances are caused by auto accidents.

The study by Boyd, Massey, Duane & Yates entitled Whiplash associated disorder in children attending the emergency department followed 105 children who had been involved in auto accidents during an eight-month-period. The subjects, ages four to sixteen, had data collected at 5, 14,28, and 56 days after their auto accidents. Nine of them complained of pain on motion on physical exam, 47% showed pain on motion but no pain on physical exam. 60% of the subjects with whiplash injuries reported pain immediately after the crash, with 40% reporting the onset of symptoms the following day. Those who sustained even minor whiplash injuries were symptomatic for 2-18 days, and those with more significant injuries 2-62 days. This does not even address the psychological trauma as the study reveals “Recent work has shown that children are susceptible to and do experience significant psychological trauma after being involved in a car crash.”

Parents and adults should take action when a child has sustained a whiplash or other spine injury. Auto accidents, bicycle accidents, or slip and fall accidents can result in significant spine injuries or brain injuries. If your child or someone you know has sustained a serious whiplash or other injury, seek immediate medial attention and talk to an experienced personal injury attorney.

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pedestrian-injuries.jpgSIGNON SAN DIEGO Susan Shroder reported that Sharlotte Kingston a 36-year-old Poway woman, was struck by a pickup truck while walking her dog on September 13, 2011. The truck accident happened on Valley Verde Road and Dorset Way at around 11 a.m. According to Sheriff’s Sgt. Daniel Vengler, a 58-year-old Poway man allegedly lost control of his truck, hit a street sign, and then the woman. She sustained multiple injuries, including a head injury and was transported to Palomar Medical Center in Escondido in critical condition.

Applicable California Law

The pickup truck driver will be liable for the woman’s personal injuries and for violation of Vehicle Code 21658, which requires drivers to stay within their lane unless any movement can be made safely. The woman’s claims would include economic damages such as medical expenses, lost earnings and earning capacity. In addition, there would be damages for pain and suffering, to include past and future physical pain, mental suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, physical impairment, inconvenience, grief, anxiety, humiliation, and emotional distress. Given a significant head injury, her damages will be significant and hopefully the truck driver has enough assets and or insurance coverage to adequately compensate the victim for her injuries (see my prior Blog post Uninsured / Under-insured Auto and General Accident Guide).

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wallis_t593SAN DIEGO UNION TRIBUNE Elizabeth Aguilera reported that Izaiah Wallis of Vista was released from Rady Children’s Hospital on May 17, 2011 after being hospitalized for seven months. Izaiah and his grandfather were on there way to a park in Oceanside when they were struck by a 17-year-old drunk driver on October 18, 2010. The toddler was thrown from his stroller and was left paralyzed and partially blind as a result of a brain injury when his head was severed from his spine. His parents were quoted as saying, “It’s going to be a bumpy road, but with all the help and support we can get through this,” said Jacob Wallis, Izaiah’s father. “It’s like bringing a newborn baby home for the first time. Lucy and I have waiting for this day to come,” said Wallis, referring to his fiancé, who is also Izaiah’s mother. The driver who hit them was sentenced to 480 days in custody.

Applicable California Law

The teenage driver was convicted of driving under the influence resulting in bodily injury (see my prior Blog post on California DUI Law). Furthermore, Izaiah and his grandfather will have claims for personal injury. However, there is a question as to the amount of insurance or other assets of the responsible parties to adequately compensate the victims, which is usually the case in accidents involving catastrophic injuries(see my prior Blog post on UM/UIM Coverage). Given the catastrophic nature of Izaiah’s injuries and the cost of future care it is doubtful that the defendants have adequate assets. California has various assistance programs, such as the fund for victims of violent crimes. Fortunately, San Diego has exceptional facilities to help brain injury victims such as Brain Tek Institute and the rehabilitation center at Scripps Memorial Hospital in Encinitas (see my prior Blog post on Traumatic Brain Injury).

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Cyclist-Van-LomitaNBC San Diego News reporters Michael Gehlken and Steve Luke reported that an unnamed Hispanic man in his 50s was killed while riding his bicycle in Lomita on March 6, 2011. The accident happened at around 7:30 a.m. on Skyline Dr. when a van traveling westbound, driven by an unnamed 47-year old female driver, veered to the right and struck the bicyclist who was traveling on the right side of the road.

Darryl Hoover, field lieutenant with the San Diego Police Department stated that “At this time, investigators are trying to determine why the driver, who at this point has been considered the primary cause, veered to the right and struck the bicyclist.” “The bicyclist went through the driver’s side window of the van and then was launched, and came to rest on the sidewalk.” A nearby resident Isabel Huerta said the auto accident sent the victim flying off the van’s windshield in front of her friend’s house. “She was just really terrified because the body was right in front of her house, and she could see the bike torn into pieces, and shoes and his hat all over the place,” Huerta stated.

Our deepest sympathy goes out to the friends and family of the bicyclist.

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motorcyclecrash_t352San Diego Union Tribune correspondent Debbie Baker reported that an unnamed motorcyclist sustained serious injuries in a head-on collision in Balboa park on 2/23/11. The motorcycle accident occurred when the rider who was traveling southbound on Pershing Drive at around 9 p.m., crossed over the double-yellow lines and struck a Nissan Altima going in the opposite direction. The driver of the Altima was injured and the rider suffered a head injury and multiple broken bones. The rider was suspected of speeding at 45 mph, when the posted speed limit is 35mph, but he was not cited.

Applicable California Law

The motorcyclist will be liable for damages for violation of California speed law, Vehicle Code 22350, and Vehicle Code 21651, which prohibits vehicles from crossing into oncoming traffic when a road has been divided by double yellow lines.The driver of the Altima will have claims for the damage to his vehicle, loss of use of his vehicle while it is being repaired, as well as claims for personal injury (see my prior Blog post on personal injury damages). If the driver of the Altima contributed to causing the accident in any way, the motorcyclist could also have claims for damages against the driver, and owner of the vehicle.

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imagesCAG8W6WBUnion Tribune reporter Eric Edmonds story on off-roading in Southern California’s deserts, highlights the heightened risk of serious injuries to children caused by the operation of all terrain vehicles. Although off-roading in California is a year-round activity, when temperatures in the deserts are more moderate, around October, large numbers of off-road enthusiasts driving motorcycles, trucks and ATVs invade popular areas such as Glamis in San Diego. People taking vacations or getting away for the weekend for fun converge on these areas creating virtual cities. Unfortunately, with the large numbers of people racing and partying, popular areas such as Glamis start to resemble war zones due to accidents caused by reckless drivers.

An ongoing research study being conducted at Rady Children’s Hospital in conjunction with Children’s Hospital of Orange County has found some interesting patterns concerning desert season and off-road vehicle-related injuries in children. The age of those injured ranges from 8 months to 14 years (the cutoff age for trauma being directed toward a children’s hospital). Forty percent of the injuries are fractures and 20 percent of the injuries involved the skull, brain, spine, or other internal injuries. Moreover, about half of the fractures require surgery.

The primary vehicles involved in causing serious injuries are dirt bikes, which account for approximately 45% ; ATVs, quads, and other vehicles make up the rest. Far too many children fail to use proper safety equipment and or lack the safety training in the first instance. The study suggests that the lack of adequate regulation and enforcement is of great concern.

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prac_product-liabilityEast County Magazine reported that Carlos Martinez of Escondido sustained serious internal and head injuries when he was ejected from his vehicle. The car accident happened on January 15, 2011 at around 5 a.m.. According to the San Diego Sheriff’s office, Martinez, who was driving northbound on San Elijo Road in San Marcos, hit the center median, which caused his GMC Envoy to roll over. Martinez was ejected from the vehicle and transported to Palomar Medical Center.

Applicable California Law

Martinez will have potential claims for personal injury and lost earning and earning capacity against General Motors Corporation and the dealer where he purchased the vehicle. His claims will be based on theories of products liability (see my prior Blog post for California Products Liability Law). However, it is not clear why Martinez’s vehicle drifted into the center divide, or if he was wearing his seatbelt at the time of the accident. If his conduct contributed to causing his own injuries, any claims he pursues will be reduced proportionately.

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hit-runSan Diego Union Tribune reporter Harry Jones reported that a unnamed man riding a motorized scooter/wheelchair suffered a severe head injury as a result of being hit by a hit-and run driver in National City Christmas morning. Police Sgt. Robert Rounds said the 57-year-old man was riding along the shoulder of Paradise Valley Road near 8th Street when he was struck from behind by a burgundy pick up truck at around 10:30 a.m. “It totally destroyed the wheelchair and sent the man flying through the air,” Rounds said. Joshua Becerra of San Diego, the 22-year-old driver of the truck, stopped long enough to pick up the debris from the truck and then fled from the scene. Later the same day Becerra’s uncle called police and Becerra was taken into custody. “If the driver had just stuck around, he probably would’ve been OK, but when you leave like that it becomes a felony,” Rounds said. The victim was hospitalized for head injuries and is in serious condition.

Applicable California Law

Becerra will face potential criminal charges for felony hit-and-run (see my prior Blog post for California hit-and-run law). In addition Becerra will have civil liability for the victim’s injuries to include medical expenses, lost earnings and earning capacity as well as compensation for pain and suffering. However, it is not clear why the victim was riding in the street and not the sidewalk. If the victim’s conduct contributed to causing his own injuries, his claims would be reduce proportionately. Since the victim sustained a serious head injury, Becerra’s liability insurance limits are at issue. If they are inadequate, hopefully the victim is covered by his own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage and or an umbrella policy (see my prior Blog post on California uninsured/underinsured liability coverage).

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25404196_240X180San Diego News10 reported that a bicyclist, who had been drinking, was struck by a hit-and-run driver on October 14, 2010. The bicycle accident happened in the bike lane on Pomerado Road, near Caminito Vecinos at about 8 p.m.. According to police he was not wearing a helmet, did not have reflective gear or lights on. The rider had been drinking and was wearing a backpack with beer containers inside it, which may have saved his life. San Diego police Sergeant Art Doherty said “He had a number of beverages in the backpack. It probably absorbed the impact.” The man refused to cooperate with police and there was no description of the driver or the vehicle; however, debris from the car found at the scene could lead police to the identity of the vehicle. The bicyclist sustained abrasions, bruises, a fractured vertebra, and was transported to the hospital.

Applicable California Law

The driver of a vehicle who is involved in an accident has the responsibility to remain at the scene of the accident (see my prior Blog post on California’s Hit-and-run laws). Bicyclist have the same rights and duties, under the law, as any other vehicle on the road (see my prior Blog post on California’s Bike laws), which also prohibit drinking and riding (see my prior Blog post on California’s Drunk Driving laws). If the driver of the hit-and-run vehicle cannot be identified, the rider can pursue an uninsured motorist claim if he has the benefit of such coverage. However, the fact that he was intoxicated, riding without a helmet, not wearing proper reflective gear, or using lights would diminish the value of his injury claim to the extent he contributed to his own injuries.