Attorneys Jim Perkins and Dennis Newitt of Colman Perkins Law Group teamed up for a decisive 2021 arbitration win. They earned a defense award in favor of their insurance carrier client in this uninsured motorist claim.
In 2018, the claimant alleged her Kia was involved in a hit-and-run accident as she was merging onto the 101 Freeway in the Woodland Hills area.
The adverse vehicle reportedly did not stop and claimant alleged injuries and damages, seeking to recover the full policy limit of $100,000.00.
The entire claim was questionable
The CPLG team argued that the claimant’s story teetered on slippery, unclear or missing facts. Jim and Dennis set about knocking down each issue like dominoes.
Was there an accident?
The claimant stated her car was sideswiped on the driver’s side and pushed into the right-side guard rail. She claimed to be moving at 20 to 30 mph when she was struck by a car traveling at around 60.
Her testimony was far from convincing. Unable to adequately answer many questions about her speed, traffic flow or her position on the road, she was also impeached several times with testimony from her examination under oath.
We asserted that the collision as reported did not happen. Our expert testified that the Kia’s event data recorder (EDR), designed to register an abrupt change in velocity of at least 5 mph, showed no event on the accident date, or at any other time for that matter.
Our accident reconstruction expert related his opinion after viewing 16 photographs of claimant’s damaged vehicle and the EDR disclosure. He concluded the dent in the left front fender could not have been caused by a sideswipe collision between two vehicles traveling in the same direction.
And the horizontal indentation damage to the passenger doors did not line up with the guardrail at the location the claimant identified. Other damage on the car was inconsistent with the portrayed sideswipe impact.
Claimed injuries and causation
The claimant said she drove home without reporting the accident or requesting medical assistance. The next day she went to the emergency room complaining of neck and low back pain. In discovery she denied previous neck complaints and acknowledged earlier low back discomfort. Pre-accident records impeached her assertions.
She was treated, tested or examined by eight medical professionals, including a pain specialist, chiropractor and surgeon. Medical bills were submitted for $49,000.
Her orthopedic spine surgeon recommended a $172,000 two-part cervical surgery. He assigned 80% causation to the accident for the anterior cervical disc and fusion at C 5-6. And he attributed 50% to the accident/50% to a pre-existing condition for the disc replacement at C 4-5.
Pre-existing conditions and an evolving narrative
We contended that the injuries she claimed were not from the alleged accident but related to pre-existing conditions. The CPLG team, based on an evaluation by a defense-requested physician, pointed out conflicts in the claimant’s narrative. To him, she described a violent crash that deployed airbags, which disagreed with the evidence.
We also challenged the efficacy and cost of treatment she received and disputed the need for future care resulting from the claimed collision.
The testimony of the defense’s physician devastated the claimant’s credibility. Since airbag deployment and a collision with the sound wall simply did not happen, it’s arguable whether the collision occurred at all.
The arbitrator awarded the claimant nothing. Each party was ordered to bear their own costs, fees and expenses.