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Rear-End Collision with Truck Causes Life-Altering Coup-Contrecoup for Mother of Two

The impact was devastating. An out-of-control flatbed tow truck on a dark California highway plowed into the back of a small SUV. The car jolted forward, its back end almost lifting off the ground. The mother of two driving the SUV slammed against her seatbelt, her head jerking back and forth like a whip as she hit the airbag.

All the mother could remember were the bright lights in her rearview mirror. She had no recollection of what occurred next because of the traumatic brain injury she suffered. Her husband, son, and daughter said she wasn’t quite the same after accident.

Personal injury lawyer Christopher Ardalan of the Thousand Oaks firm Ardalan & Associates, PLC was asked by colleague Jon Teller of Wilshire Law Firm to take to take on the woman’s case – just two weeks before the trial date. With 23 years of experience practicing in Southern California, Chris knew preparing for a jury in this case wasn’t going to be easy.

The first challenge was the lack of time. While the attorney who had been handling the case had done an excellent job before he had to leave due to a health issue, there was still a lot of work to do. And, as a seasoned trial lawyer, Chris had his own methods. He liked to present the human story first, in this case showing the jury who the Plaintiff was before the accident and how her injuries affected her life since.

Second, while liability was clear, Chris anticipated that the case was going to be a fight over causation and damages. Consequently, he wanted to tell his client’s medical story, demonstrating to jurors the extent of the neurological damage the Plaintiff suffered. However, Chris knew that because traumatic brain injuries are invisible, it can be difficult to understand their severity.

Chris spent the weeks before trial with the family, watching videos of the Plaintiff before the accident and speaking to her afterwards. He understood quickly that he couldn’t put her on the stand as a witness. She was unable to present a clear picture of what happened or where she was mentally. As a result, the Plaintiff was deemed incompetent in terms of the trial.

How do you present a case without the Plaintiff?

Chris faced a multitude of related obstacles. On the day of the accident, no paramedics were called, and the police logged the crash as a non-injury event. His client didn’t go to the emergency room, and she was only seen by a doctor 22 hours after the concussion. She had no treatment neurologically for almost a year.

And yet she was clearly a different person now than she had been before the crash.

Depositions with several head-trauma experts were done before Ardalan got the case, and those helped. But the trial veteran knew that animations from DK Global, which the prior attorney had already commissioned, would be essential to connect the medical story to the human story. He’d worked with DK Global for many years and was confident that the company’s renderings would be key in guiding the jury to understand exactly what took place — both on the highway and inside his client’s head — and bring them over to her side.

The animations opened with a depiction of the accident itself, showing the out-of-control tow truck speeding down the four-lane highway and ramming into the back of the Plaintiff’s small SUV in the dark of night. The perspective then cut inside the car, indeed into the client’s cranium, showing a cross-section of her brain, to illustrate what happened upon impact. Her head snapped back violently, then forward into the airbag, and then back again. With each ricochet, her brain very clearly smashed against the interior of her skull, causing internal bleeding, intracranial pressure, damage to her front temporal lobe, and scarring on the brain itself. Next, a medical animation displayed the results of CT scans and MRIs.

During the trial, medical experts testified that what the images showed was consistent with the Plaintiff’s coup-contrecoup brain trauma and neurological damage symptoms. The animations gave jurors a clear picture of what happened, how it happened, and the resulting injuries. Then, an eyewitness corroborated the video, testifying that it showed the crash as she remembered it. Chris’s use of experts, the eyewitness, and the animations convinced the jury that the Plaintiff’s life was truly altered as a result of the accident. They returned a $11,000,000 verdict. Which, after including pre-judgment interest, grew to $14,000,000 – fourteen times more than the original pre-trial offer from the Defense.

Christopher Ardalan has been involved with the law since he was 15 years old. Based in Thousand Oaks, California, he has more than 23 years of experience as an attorney, specializing in motor vehicle accidents, slips and falls, product liability, and other personal injury cases for clients from Ventura to San Diego County. Ardalan was inducted into the American Board of Trial Advocates and the Million and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forums; has been nominated for Trial Lawyer of the Year by the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles; and has received the Litigator Award® as a Top 1% of all lawyers.

John C. Teller, a partner at Wilshire Law Firm, PLC, is an accomplished trial attorney, having successfully obtained over $115 million in personal injury settlements for his clients across the US. A member of the prestigious Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, in 2020 and 2019, Jon’s cases included two of the top 50 highest-value personal injury settlements in California with a $35 million verdict for an 81-year-old man who was rear-ended on the freeway and a landmark recovery of more than $28,000,000. In 2020, he was recognized as the “Consumer Attorney of the Year” by the Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC) and was consecutively named “Top 40 under 40” by The National Trial Lawyers.

Wilshire Law Firm, PLC was founded in 2007 by Bobby Saadian. Bobby has been selected among the “Nation’s Top One Percent” of attorneys by the National Association of Distinguished Counsel (NADC). Notably, Bobby has been recognized with a Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Rating of “AV Preeminent” for his legal expertise.

"Seeing something in motion that can actually show the jury how the damage occurs in the brain — that was critical in terms of being able to simplify the understanding of the jury."
P. Christopher Ardalan — Ardalan & Associates
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