Passenger suffers low back injury from rear-end collision
Personal Injury
Motor vehicle negligence
Los Angeles Superior Court

On Tuesday, April 25, 2017, at approximately 5:05 p.m., 46 yr old Cesar Hernandez was a restrained passenger in a 2017 Chrysler Pacifica which was involved in a three-car collision in the #1 lane of the I-210 westbound (Foothill Freeway) east of Huntington Drive.  Mr. Hernandez was seated behind Gang Chen, the driver, and other occupants of the Pacifica were Liu Lu and Guoqiang Hu. They were traveling in the course and scope of employment for Giggle Fiber on their way to Las Vegas for an electronics trade show. Mr. Chen came to a stop behind a 1999 Nissan Maxima when he was hit from the rear by a 2016 StarCraft Shuttle. The Pacifica was pushed forward and struck the rear of the Maxima. All involved vehicles became disabled blocking the #1 lane.  The Pacifica was totaled.


Plaintiff Cesar Hernandez was one of the restrained, no-fault passengers, seated directly behind the driver. At the time of the accident, Cesar was talking to his co-worker seated to his immediate right. Cesar had his left leg crossed perpendicularly over his right knee.  He was also turned to the right engaged in conversation. He heard a loud explosion and his head struck the back of the driver seat. He thinks he may have also bumped heads with his co-worker who suffered a severe head laceration.  The driver of the Pacifica could not get out of the car on his own, so Mr. Hernandez exited and gave him assistance. He then helped his co-worker with the head injury out of the vehicle.  Cesar remained on the scene for 40 min - 1 hr before being taken to the hospital by ambulance.


On July 12, 2017, Plaintiff Cesar Hernandez filed the instant lawsuit.  On February 16, 2018, Mr. Hernandez filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court fo the Central District of California. On August 27, 2018, Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment claiming Plaintiff lacked standing and should be estopped from bringing the action. On September 5, 2018, Plaintiff withdrew the bankruptcy filing before any debts were discharged.  He made an honest mistake and did not realize that this lawsuit qualified as an asset for purposes of his Chapter 13 filing.  Defendant associated in an out-of-state attorney to brief the summary judgment motion and appear at the hearing, hoping to capitalize on Mr. Hernandez’s mistake. The Court denied the Motion for Summary Judgment.


Mr. Hernandez was transported from the scene by ambulance to Huntington Memorial Hospital. He was examined and x-rays were obtained. A CT Scan was taken of the head and neck. He was given a splint for the ankle as well as crutches before being released. Over the next couple weeks, Cesar Hernandez did not return to work.  He received a course of chiropractic treatment, which was of no benefit. MRI of the lumbar spine dated May 6, 2017 showed a disc protrusion at L2-3, at L3-4 and L4-5 of about 4mm with severe canal stenosis.  He saw an orthopedist who did an evaluation on May 22, 2017 and referred him out for electrodiagnostic testing. On June 28, 2017, an EMG was performed which confirmed L5 radiculopathy.  Cesar Hernandez was referred out to an orthopaedic spine surgeon who on March 6, 2018 performed an L3-L5 transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion and L2-L3 partial laminectomy with interlaminar fusion with implant.  Mr. Hernandez took a month off work to recover. His neurologic dysfunction significantly improved as a result of the surgery. 


Total medical bills were approximately $350,000.  Past wage loss was approximately $10,000. Plaintiff claimed that in the future, due to adjacent segment disease, he would need an L5-S1 decompression with instrumented fusion at a cost of approximately $200,000 before reducing to present value.  Defendants retained Dr. Stephen Nagelberg who disputed causation and the nature and extent of plaintiff’s injuries.