Jury Awards 2% of Plaintiff’s Ask in Minor Rear-End Accident
On July 9, 2021, Michael Cody and Denetta Scott secured a great result at trial in Santa Monica in an admitted liability, admitted injury rear-end accident. Plaintiff aggressively litigated the case against against a minimum insurance policy limit, arguing that the policy was blown open.
This was a minor impact, rear-end accident that took place during morning rush hour traffic in downtown Los Angeles. Plaintiff, an elementary school teacher, was on her way to work when the accident happened. Neither party called 911, but LAPD randomly arrived at the accident scene to direct traffic around the vehicles, but no medical personnel were called, and no police report was made because there were no injuries reported by either party. Both vehicles were driven from the accident scene, and Plaintiff worked her full day as a teacher.
Following the accident Plaintiff underwent conservation medical treatment consisting of imaging and chiropractic treatment in the months following the accident. She was released from chiropractic care after making slow but steady improvement. She randomly underwent an epidural steroid injection to her neck 18 months after the accident, which did not improve her with any relief. Two and a half years later (February 2016), Plaintiff was referred by her attorney to a spine surgeon, who recommended cervical fusion surgery at a cost of $250,0000. Plaintiff’s total medical bills were approximately $36,000.
By the time of trial, Plaintiff had not had a medical appointment for her claimed injuries for over 3 years, had not undergone the surgery that was recommended 5 years earlier, and had not had any medical treatment for her claimed injuries in 6.5 years.
Michael put on the testimony of an accident reconstruction and biomechanics expert who testified that the forces at impact could not have caused any significant injury to Plaintiff. Michael also called a board-certified orthopedic spine surgeon who testified that Plaintiff suffered soft tissue injuries at most, and that reasonable cost of the reasonable medical treatment was between $6,000-$9,0000.
In closing arguments Plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury to award $833,000 including $250,000 for the surgery that Plaintiff had still not undergone nearly 8 years after the accident. Michael told the jury to use their common sense in awarding damages for pain and suffering to compensate for the reasonable medical bills.
After 3.5 hours of deliberations, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Plaintiff for $24,107. This consisted of $19.107 in past medical bills and $5,000 in past pain in suffering. The jury awarded nothing for future medical care or future pain and suffering. The jury’s award was just 2% of what Plaintiff had asked the jury to award, and $12,000 less than her total medical bills.