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Orange County

Negligence was admitted by the defendant driver in this motor vehicle action on the day of trial. The accident occurred when the defendant pulled out of a shopping plaza in front of a car in which the plaintiff was riding. The defendant attempted to cross three lanes of westbound traffic to make a left turn. The left front of the defendant’s vehicle struck the right front of the host vehicle. The defendant maintained that the plaintiff was comparatively negligent for failing to wear her seat belt. The defense also contested the extent of the injuries and economic damages which the plaintiff claimed to have sustained as a result of the accident.

The plaintiff, a 44-year-old woman at the time of trial, was a back seat passenger and was, admittedly, not wearing her seatbelt when the host vehicle collided with the defendant’s car. The plaintiff’s orthopedic surgeon testified that the plaintiff sustained a comminuted fracture of the femur extending into the knee as a result of the impact. The plaintiff underwent open reduction and internal fixation, but her recovery was complicated by a non-union of the femur, according to her treating orthopedic surgeon.

The plaintiff’s expert orthopedic surgeon testified that he evaluated the plaintiff’s injuries and found that the plaintiff had sustained a residual permanency as a result of the fracture.

The plaintiff walked with a limp at the time of trial. Both of the plaintiff’s orthopedic surgeons opined that the plaintiff will require at least two future knee replacements as a result of her accident-related knee injuries. The prosthesis used in the knee replacement surgery has a lifespan of approximately 15 years, according to the plaintiff’s experts.

The plaintiff contended that photographs of the back seat of the vehicle in which the plaintiff was riding did not show a seatbelt and the defendant could not prove that a seatbelt was available.

The plaintiff’s accident reconstruction expert testified, that even if the plaintiff had been wearing a seatbelt, the belt would not have prevented her injuries.

The plaintiff was rendered disabled by epilepsy shortly before p 7 3 the date of the accident and was not working at the time. A former co-worker from the fruit packing plant where the plaintiff had worked as a box manager testified that she noticed a negative change in the plaintiff’s personality, energy level and physical abilities following the accident. The plaintiff testified that she was no longer able to perform the housework which she performed prior to the accident.

The defendant’s orthopedic surgeon testified that any assertion that the plaintiff will require a future knee replacement is purely speculative. The defense also argued that there were many devices which could assist the plaintiff in performing her housework, including mop extensions, handicapped accessible tools and laundry carts.

The judge directed a verdict for the plaintiff on the seatbelt issue. The jury found for the plaintiff in the amount of $________. The award included $________ in past medical expenses; $________ in future medical expenses; $________ in future loss of services; $________ in past pain and suffering and $________ in future pain and suffering.

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