$7.3M Settlement: Animated Drowsy Driving Collision
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that drowsy driving was responsible for 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths in 2013. We animated one of these cases after a driver fell asleep at freeway speeds and crashed into the back of a minivan in stopped traffic with a child in the backseat. Ronald E. Johnson, Jr., Esq., needed animations to accomplish the following visual objectives:
- Demonstrate how much time the driver had to avoid the collision.
- Evaluate the driver’s actions as he approaches the point of impact.
- Show the mechanism of the fatal injury inflicted upon the young victim.
Our forensics team produced the animation below, which helped convince the opposition to settle for $7.3M.
Demonstrating the Reaction Time
The animation opens with a plan-view of the two-mile stretch of highway to frame the amount of space between the driver and the stopped minivan. We added a timer to show the amount of time the driver had to react. Once the space and time have been established, we animate the driver’s actions during that space and time based on police reports, eye-witness accounts and a reconstruction expert.
Evaluating the Driver’s Actions
The animation begins with the driver’s truck heading westward in the southbound lane of I-265. The vehicle is seen negotiating the right turn, and then traveling south towards the point of impact. Near the impact, we zoom into a camera angle from the driver’s vertical eye-height. We then cut to two other camera angles - one from behind the driver, and finally one from the perspective of the truck driver in the right lane - establishing every witness’s perspective. At impact, we count the seconds from the collision until the vehicles meet their points of rest - to emphasize the violent power of the sudden impact.
Animating Mechanism of Injury
After establishing the driver’s actions, we cut to a camera angle facing the young girl in the back seat, as the defendant rapidly closes in. As the vehicles collide, the post-impact deformation of the caravan’s roof is seen coming into contact with the young girl’s head - depicting the sudden violent forces involved in the collision. We then zoom into the impact point, and fade in to reveal the depressed comminuted left parietal skull fracture. Labels are added to identify specific fractures, hemorrhaging, residual pneumocephalus and extra cranial hematomas, identified via CT Scan.
The HI team worked closely with our accident reconstruction experts to make sure that our animation of the collision was entirely accurate. It was a key part of our presentation at mediation and after our second attempt at settlement the case settled for full value. The animation was a crucial part of our demonstration to the defense, and it added significant value to the settlement.