Minimal damage award after minor-impact rear-ender; injuries blamed on prior accident. $4,800. Imperial County.


Plaintiff claims $42,800 in past medical bills with neck and knee injuries, but jury looks to prior accident.

The Case

  • Case Name: Alicia Castro-Moreno v. Esteban Hernandez
  • Court and Case Number: Imperial Superior Court / ECU08070
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Wednesday, October 19, 2016
  • Date Action was Filed: Thursday, February 06, 2014
  • Type of Case: Vehicles – rear-ender
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Jeffrey B. Jones
  • Plaintiffs:
    Alicia Castro-Moreno, 60.
  • Defendants:
    Esteban Daniel Hernandez
    Valley Petroleum Equipment, Inc.
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $4,880.79
  • Net Verdict or Award: $4,880.79
  • Award as to each Defendant:

    $4,880.79 total

  • Contributory/Comparative Negligence: None.
  • Economic Damages:


  • Non-Economic Damages:


  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 5 days.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 1 1/2 hours.
  • Jury Polls: Dec-00
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Defendants will file their cost bill as a result of beating their 998. Plaintiff is in the process of preparing a post trial motion for a new trial due to an incorrect verdict (lack of non-economic damages where there was medical treatment).

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Simpson Law Group LLP by Sean Simpson, San Diego.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Austin Brownwood Cannon & Santa Cruz by Sylvia S. Aceves, San Diego.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Travis Calvin, M.D., neurosurgery, El Centro. (Treating physician.)

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On May 17, 2013, plaintiff Alicia Castro-Moreno was rear-ended by Esteban Daniel Hernandez who, at the time of the accident, was in the course and scope of his employment with Valley Petroleum Equipment.

    Defendant Hernandez was driving a 1994 Toyota Truck and his vehicle was not damaged in the accident. The damage to plaintiff's vehicle totaled $1,767.51.

    Plaintiff was transported to the emergency room of Pioneers Memorial Hospital on the day of the accident. On May 24, 2013, plaintiff treated with orthropedist Dr. Veerinder S. Anand for her ongoing orthopedic complaints. At that time, she was diagnosed with cervical and lumbar sprain and strain and left knee internal derangement.

    On July 11, 2013, plaintiff underwent a left knee arthroscopy and it was determined that she had left knee derangement with lateral meniscal tear, chondromalacia of the trochlea and the medial femoral condyle.

    On February 5, 2014, a cervical MRI was ordered by Dr. Anand. On February 26, 2014, plaintiff saw Dr. Anand and his record states that the MRI showed a C3-4 disc bulge w/ nerve root impingement. As a result, she was referred to Dr. Travis Calvin to treat her neck.

    About a month before this accident, on April 7, 2013, plaintiff allegedly caused a three-car rear-end accident on the Interstate 5 South freeway near Los Angeles. Her 2007 Kia Optima LX was totaled as a result of the accident. She denied any injury from that accident other than an airbag burn. She went to her physician, Dr. Jose Montanto, in Mexicali after the April accident. Plaintiff testified that Dr. Montes examined her and took X-rays of her neck after the accident and the X-ray did not show any findings.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    Plaintiff contended that she suffered no injury in the April 2013 accident. She claimed her left knee meniscus tear and cervical disc herniation were as a result of the May 2013 accident. She claimed she needed an anterior cervical disc fusion and total knee replacement as a result of the May 2013 accident.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendants contended that the May 2013 accident was not of an injury-producing nature and, if plaintiff suffered any injury to her neck and her left knee, it was as a result of the April 2013 accident which she caused. Defendants also contended that this was shown by the fact that she did not tell any medical providers about the first accident.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Lateral meniscal tear of the left knee, cervical disc herniation at C3-4, need for a total knee replacement.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $42,869.70
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: $45,000
  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: None claimed.
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: None claimed.

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff §998 Demand: $64,500
  • Defendant §998 Offer: $6,300

Additional Notes

The jury awarded no general damages. The economic damages included $1,767.51 for property damage and $3,113.28 for medical expenses for the emergency room visit on the day of the accident.  Insurer for defendant was Liberty Mutual.