$4.5M Settlement Exposing 3D Depth of Skull Fractures and TBI

Tony Seaton, Esq., and Robert Bates, Esq., Law Offices of Seaton & Bates, PLLC, Johnson City, TN

A teenage girl was riding home with her parents and boyfriend from a Wednesday night church service when a tractor-trailer struck the back driver’s side of their car as they were traveling through an intersection. The impact sent the car spinning into oncoming traffic where it struck another vehicle. When paramedics arrived, the 17-year-old was unresponsive with bleeding from her left ear and a laceration from behind her left ear.

She was rushed to the hospital where she underwent a series of CT scans that showed a severely comminuted open skull fracture with an underlying 1.1 cm subdural hematoma. She was taken to the operating room where an emergency craniotomy was performed to evacuate the hematoma and reassemble the skull fragments. The patient gradually began to wake up and was discharged six days later, after she showed she could maneuver up and down the hallway.

The biggest challenge in a brain injury case like this - where most of the damages are deeply underlying and undetectable on the surface - is that the only visual evidence is in the form of 2D black-and-white radiographic films. This can look ambiguous to the typical juror because it’s often difficult to discern where these snapshots are located inside the person’s skull. Tony Seaton, Esq., and Robert Bates, Esq., needed to reinforce this 2D radiographic evidence with maximum 3D context.

We equipped them with a custom Diagnostic Slice Chooser: an interactive presentation that presents radiographic slides within a three-dimensional model of the patient’s head. We also designed the model accurately to the patient’s likeness and colorized the films to highlight key areas of damage. The attorneys could show the complete depth and magnitude of his client’s injuries at every level both before and after the surgery. After establishing the full extent of damages, we also created an animation to walk viewers through the surgical experience the patient would undergo as a result of her injuries.

The visual presentation helped jurors understand the destructive impact this collision had on this young teenager’s life, and Mr. Seaton and Mr. Bates, Esq., were able to acquire a $4.5M settlement for his client.

Robert Bates, Esq., Law Offices of Seaton & Bates, PLLC
After her injury and surgery, our client appeared normal. Her hair covered her scars. She was working as a waitress and going to college full time. We needed to show what happened, how it happened and the severity of our client’s injuries. Through these animations, we were able to do exactly that.
Robert Bates, Esq., Law Offices of Seaton & Bates, PLLC

Exhibit A: Diagnostic Slice Chooser

The Diagnostic Slice Chooser breaks down the patient’s damages into three categories: Pre-Op CT scans of brain damage, Pre-Op CT scans of skull fractures, and Post-Op CT Scans depicting the hardware used to reassemble the skull and internal fractures.

Diagnostic Slice Chooser Establishes Depth of Damage

The Pre-Op CT scans of the brain show obvious signs of deep subdural bleeding, pneumocephalus, and compressed ventricles within the center of the brain. The Pre-Op CT scans of the skull show the comminuted open skull fractures at four different levels. The Post-Op CT scans show the craniotomy hardware that the patient will likely live with for the rest of her life. Mr. Seaton and Mr. Bares were able to easily flip through these radiographic slides with maximum context, and enlarge the original CT scan from the bottom-right corner of the screen.

Exhibit B: Animated Craniotomy

After establishing the depth and magnitude of damages, we animated the surgical procedures that were required to evacuate a large epidural hematoma, drain the epidural space, and reassemble bone fragments to secure the skull.

Surgery Animation Demonstrates Complex Procedures

First, a scalpel was used to make an incision on the left side of the head. The skin was retracted, revealing the large comminuted skull fracture with depressed fragments, and four holes were drilled into the skull. A craniotomy was performed using a bone saw and floating bone fragments were removed. The bone flap fragments were then reassembled with plates and screws on an operating tray as epidural blood was evacuated. After the epidural space had been drained, the reassembled bone fragments were attached to the skull using titanium plates and screws. The skin was then closed with staples, and the wound behind her ear was sutured.

The Diagnostic Slice Chooser helped magnify the totality of damages, the medical animation helped simplify the extremely complex surgery, and the visual presentation helped Mr. Seaton and Mr. Bates return a $4.5M settlement to the victim of a catastrophic incident that should have never occurred.

High Impact’s team of visual strategists, artists and developers can build and customize your digital presentation for any case involving personal injury, medical malpractice, birth trauma - or any subject involving complex information.

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