$7.8M Verdict: DIS Captures Damages After Big Rig Hits CarJustin K. Strassburg, William R. Gilmore and Adam R. Lugo, Strassburg, Gilmore & Wei, LLP, Pasadena, CA
A young woman was on her way to Las Vegas in the passenger seat of a Prius when it ran out of gas. Before the driver could maneuver the vehicle to the side of the highway, a big rig smashed into the car from behind, catastrophically injuring the passenger.
She suffered several injuries, including C1 and C2 vertebrae fractures, 10 fractured ribs, a T3 compression fracture, an L4 transverse process fracture, a scalp hematoma, pulmonary contusions and a collapsed lung. Her injuries would require epidural injections, a chest tube placement, and eventually surgical fusions of her cervical and lumbar spines.
The trucking company's three defense lawyers tried to blame the crash on the Prius driver for running out of gas and not pulling over to the side of the road safely. They also presented Instagram photos from the Plaintiff's Zumba class to downplay her pain and suffering, claiming she had an "amazing" recovery.
Justin K. Strassburg, William R. Gilmore, and Adam R. Lugo needed to convey the magnitude of their client’s damages, the surgeries and pain treatments she needed to undergo, and the future spine fusions she would still need as part of her ongoing recovery. We built them a custom interactive Digital Injury Summary (DIS) and equipped it with illustrations, color diagnostics, and animations to help them achieve the following visual objectives.
- Illustrate the Plaintiff’s long list of injuries in vivid detail.
- Highlight radiographic evidence of these damages in color.
- Show what the Plaintiff's epidural injections involved.
- Show what the Plaintiff's chest tube placement involved.
- Demonstrate the cervical spine fusion she would still need.
- Demonstrate the lumbar spine fusion she would still need.
The largest offer from the Defense was $1.45M, but the interactive visual presentation helped jurors understand the full scope the Plaintiff's pain, suffering, and ongoing recovery - resulting in a $7.8M verdict.
The High Impact visuals had an amazing impact on the jury. The visuals were necessary to show the jury the severity of our client’s injuries and they helped them understand how the injuries will affect her in the future. As always, the High Impact team was easy to work with and responded quickly to all requested modifications. We have used High Impact for many trials and will continue to do so in the future.
Adam R. Lugo, Esq., Strassburg, Gilmore & Wei, LLP
Exhibit A: Illustrated Injury Summary
The first section of the DIS visually introduced jurors to each of the Plaintiff's injuries, which included a scalp hematoma, lung contusions, and fractures throughout her cervical spine, lumbar spine, and pelvis.
Strategically, the illustrations also anchored the jurors' understanding of each injury with a powerful visual they would easily remember when considering the magnitude of damage this person suffered. Some of the visuals are even reinforced with colorized radiographic films, which could be toggled in and out from the bottom-right corner as needed.
Exhibit B: Colorized Radiographic Evidence
After introducing jurors to the Plaintiff's damages, we added color to the Plaintiff's CT scans and MRI's in a way that focused attention on her brutal fractures.
Color Diagnostics help familiarize jurors with otherwise ambiguous, black-and-white films. You can see the power of this emphasis as the user toggles color on-and-off in the demo above.
Exhibit C: Animated Epidural Injections
Once the attorneys had established their client's damages, it was time to walk jurors through her surgical experience and ongoing recovery. The first animation showed what the Plaintiff's pain management entailed.
Injections may seem mundane in the grand scheme of this traumatic experience, but actually seeing what it looks like to have several needles inject steroids into this person's spinal cord added powerful context - especially considering the Plaintiff would have to undergo this procedure multiple times.
Exhibit D: Animated Chest Tube Placement
To treat the patient's collapsed lung, surgeons needed to insert a chest tube between her ribs in two locations and suction the air, fluid, and pus from the intrathoracic space.
Explaining this procedure in words does not do it justice; animation captured just how intense this experience must have been for patient. The animation concluded with an X-ray of the patient's ribs showing radiographic evidence of how deep the chest tube was inserted into her lung.
Exhibit E: Animated Cervical Fusion
After establishing the Plaintiff's past surgeries, they needed to demonstrate the two spine surgeries their client would still need as part of her ongoing recovery. First, we animated the cervical spine fusion.
A vertical incision would need to be made in the back of her head so that four holes could be drilled into her vertebrae. Metal hardware would then need to be screwed into her spine and bone grafts were used to form a bridge between the vertebral segments of the spine.
Exhibit F: Animated Cervical Fusion
Finally, we animated the Plaintiff's proposed lumbar fusion she would need in order to have her L5-S1 vertebrae reinforced and her lower spine secured.
An incision would need to be made in her lower back where a laminectomy and facetectomy would be performed to remove portions of her spine. Herniated disc material would then be removed, replaced with cages, and secured with metal hardware that would be screwed into the spine. Animation captures the true totality of this experience.