Former San Diego Mayor Seeks Compensation from the City for Wife’s Breast Injury

Roger Hedgecock

A damaged sidewalk in San Diego caused the woman to fall, which ruptured her breast implants and required surgery.

In the 1980s, Roger Hedgecock was mayor of San Diego. Soon, however, he may find himself on the opposite side of a courtroom from the city he once led.

That’s because of a fall which Hedgecock’s wife Cynthia took on a damaged San Diego sidewalk two years ago, in July of 2015. After falling forward onto the ground, Cynthia Hedgecock experienced pain in her chest. She later learned that her silicone breast implants had ruptured, necessitating an expensive and painful corrective surgery.

The Hedgecocks are not the first San Diegans to sue over an injury caused by a damaged sidewalk. In fact, sidewalk lawsuits have been a point of frequent litigation in San Diego recently, with a $5 million settlement having been given by the city to a bicyclist injured by a faulty sidewalk earlier this spring, as well as multiple other settlements ranging into the tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars.

However, the Hedgecocks are unusual in that their case is expected to go to trial. The Hedgecock case will most likely be decided in court, and attorneys for both the Hedgecocks and the city are already meeting to discuss trial dates.

What is pain and suffering?

In the personal injury law system, pain and suffering is a type of tort for which damages can be given. Pain and suffering includes both physical pain and emotional trauma which a plaintiff may have suffered after an accident.

Pain and suffering is typically demonstrated in court by showing medical records, to prove that an injury occurred and it led to the plaintiff experiencing a certain degree of physical or emotional anguish. However, pain and suffering, by its very nature, is somewhat subjective. How can you attach a money value to something as abstract as an individual’s pain?

There are a few different methods for calculating pain and suffering, but none of them are very precise. This is why pain and suffering is known in the personal injury law system as a type of non-economic damage, to differentiate it from economic damages (such as, for instance, medical bills) which have a precise numerical value attached to them.

What types of damages are awarded for pain and suffering in San Diego?

Pain and suffering awards can range from very small to very large. Typically, pain and suffering is closely associated with the economic damages of a personal injury case, and is generally figured in close proportion to the amount of medical bills incurred by the plaintiff, as well as the severity of the injury and the amount of time it takes the plaintiff to recover. As a rule of thumb, small injuries lead to small pain and suffering awards, and large injuries lead to large awards.

The majority of recent sidewalk injury cases in San Diego, and indeed the vast majority of personal injury cases (well over 90%) are settled out of court before ever coming to trial.

However, nothing is set in stone. Unlike other aspects of the case, pain and suffering depends largely upon the will of the jury in a particular case, as well as the skill of your attorney. This is why it is so important to get a strong, skilled lawyer to represent you if you find yourself facing such a lawsuit.


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