Personal Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident – Rear-Ender
Defendant was distracted by child crying in back seat
CASE Analisa Sánchez v. Trenda Cniz, No. 2007-CI-16808
COURT Bexar County District Court, 45th, TX
JUDGE Barbara Nellermore
PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY(S) Andrew E. Toscano, Gene Toscano, Inc., San Antonio, TX; Candelario S. Trevino, Jr., Gene Toscano, Inc., San Antonio, TX
DEFENSE ATTORNEY(S) Stephen D. Navarro, Frank R. Rivas & Associates, San Antonio, TX
FACTS & ALLEGATIONS During rush hour on April 26, 2007, plaintiff Analisa Sanchez, 30, an elementary school teacher, was in a compact car traveling north on I.H. 35, Behind her was a mid-size car driven by Trenda Cruz. Cruz turned to face her crying child in the back seat, and when she faced forward again, traffic had stopped. When she tried to brake, she accidentally stepped on the accelerator instead and rear-ended Sanchez. Cruz estimated his speed was about 45 mph at impact.
Sanchez sued Cruz, alleging negligent operation of a motor vehicle.
Cruz acknowledged causing the accident. However, she denied negligence and said she acted as any normal person would, tending to her crying child and trying to brake as soon as she saw the stopped traffic.
INJURIES/DAMAGES bulging disc, L4-5; bulging disc, thoracic; disc protruion, lumbar; physical therapy; soft-tissue injuries; sprain, cervical; sprain, lumbar; sprain, thoracic
Both vehicles were totaled.
Sanchez’s diagnoses were severe sprains of the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine, including a 5-millimeter protrusion with thecal sac impingement at L5-S1 and bulges at L4-L5 and T11-T12. She started physical therapy five days after the accident. Her treatment also included pain management.
Sanchez’s past medical bills were $10,799.01. She sought $156,000 to $252,000 for future medical expenses, with the higher number based on a 25-year life care plan. The life care plan included a recommendation for a two-level discectomy and fusion, rehabilitation, physical therapy, medication, diagnostic testing, injections and other doctor visits. For noneconomic damages, she sought $10,000 for past pain and suffering and $130,000 for future pain and suffering.
The injuries hurt her quality of life and keep her from playing volleyball and softball, Sanchez said. Her doctor put her on a permanent 20-pound lifting restriction.
The defense expert opined that Sanchez’s condition was degenerative.
The defense showed surveillance video of Sanchez riding five amusement park rides since the accident, including three roller coasters.
RESULT The jury found Cruz negligent and that Sanchez’s damages were $95,000.
- $7,500 past medical cost
- $75,000 future medical costs
- $12,500 future pain and suffering
INSURER(S) State Farm
- Trial Length: 4 days
- Trial Deliberations: 6 hours
- Jury Vote: 10-2
PLAINTIFF EXPERT(S) Joe G. Gonzales, M.D., physical medicine, San Antonio, TX; Sanjay Misra, M.D., orthopedic surgery, San Antonio, TX
DEFENSE EXPERT(S) Nicholas F. Tsourmas, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Austin, TX
POST-TRIAL The Final judgment was $98,566.22
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