Rear-end accident results in disputed injury, offer of $20K. $1.2 million awarded by jury. Los Angeles County.


Rear-end accident occurs when defendant suddenly pulls in front of plaintiff in order to make a left-hand turn. Plaintiff rear-ended defendant. Plaintiff delayed treatment, and defendant contested injuries, offering only $20,000.  Jury awarded $1.2 million.

The Case

  • Case Name: Natalia North v. Francis Vogl
  • Court and Case Number: Los Angeles County Superior, West L.A./ SC 112792
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Friday, December 14, 2012
  • Date Action was Filed: Friday, May 27, 2011
  • Type of Case: Vehicles - Auto vs. Auto
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Bobbi Tillmon
  • Plaintiffs:
    Natalia North, 42, dog hiker
  • Defendants:
    Francis Vogl
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $1,120,000
  • Economic Damages:

    $72,000: past medical
    $43,000: future medical
    $50,000: past loss of earnings
    $500,000: future loss of earnings

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    $85,000: past
    $370,000: future

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 6 days.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 1 day.
  • Jury Polls: 12 - 0 on cause; 11-1 and 10-2 on certain damages.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:
    Girardi Keese by Shawn J. McCann, Los Angeles
  • Attorney for the Defendant:
    Wade and Lowe by Victor Anderson and Geoffrey Hill, Irvine

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Experts:
    Jamshid Hekmat, M.D., orthopedics (shoulder), Encino
    Tye Ouzounian, M.D., orthopedic surgery (foot), Tarzana
    Steven Silvers, D.P.M., podiatatric surgery, Santa Monica
  • Defendant's Medical Experts:
    Keith Liberman, M.D., orthopedics, Beverly Hills
  • Plaintiff's Technical Experts:
    John Brault, M.S., biomechanics, Mission Viejo
    David King, forensic engineering & biomechanics, Laguna Hills
  • Defendant's Technical Experts:
    Thomas Murtaugh, biomechanics, Los Angeles

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On February 18, 2010, at approximately 9:45 a.m., on Pacific Coast Highway near its intersection with Coastline Drive in Malibu, plaintiff was traveling southbound in a 1995 Toyota Land Cruiser. The defendant was also traveling southbound in a rented Chevy Malibu. Defendant was traveling on plaintiff's right, in the number two lane, when he changed lanes in front of plaintiff and attempted to make a left turn from the number one lane. Plaintiff then collided with the rear end of defendant's vehicle.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

     That defendant committed motor vehicle negligence by braking in front of plaintiff and making a left turn outside of the left turn pocket. Plaintiff’s expert opined the Delta-V was between 4 and 6.

    That as a direct result of the collision, plaintiff suffered injuries including a labrum tear of her left shoulder and injury to her right-foot sesamoids as a result of the impact.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Initially, that plaintiff was liable for the accident because she rear-ended defendant; that she did not leave enough space between her vehicle and his.

    Prior to trial, defendant admitted liability but contested the nature and extent of injury. Defendant claimed that the forces involved in the collision, which only caused scratches to plaintiff’s vehicle, were not sufficient to cause injury. Further, defendant contended that any injury plaintiff had was not caused by the collision because she went hiking immediately after the collision and again the next day.

    Plaintiff also gave two recorded statements within a week of the collision stating that she was not injured. Additionally, there was also approximately a four-month delay in treatment of the sesamoid injury. Defendant claimed the likely cause of plaintiff’s injuries were her dog-hiking business and her work as a banquet server.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Tear of the superior labrum; facture/bipartite sesamoid injury; headaches; soft-tissue neck sprain.

    Plaintiff first treated with a chiropractor eleven days after the accident for ongoing neck and back complaints. She then treated with an orthopedic doctor after her complaints did not resolve with chiropractic treatment.

    Five months after the collision, plaintiff underwent an arthroscopic repair of the superior labrum. The surgery successfully resolved her shoulder complaints.

    Approximately one year later, plaintiff underwent a right-tibial partial sesamoidectomy, right-fibular partial sesamoidectomy, right first-MTP-joint chondroplasty and microfracture of medial condyle and lateral condyle.

    Plaintiff continued to have complaints regarding pain in her right foot and her doctors opined that she may require future surgeries.

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff §998 Demand: $225,000
  • Defendant §998 Offer: $20,000

Additional Notes

Defendant's insurer is American National Property and Casualty Companies. Policy limit was $250,000 plus a million-dollar umbrella.