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$4M Award for Paralyzed Senior in Big Rig Pileup Suit Used Damages Animation

A driver of an 18-wheeler drove up the freeway with a caterpillar excavator in tow – a giant construction vehicle weighing nearly 40 tons. Traffic was at a standstill up ahead, but he wasn’t paying attention. He rammed into the back of a Chevy sedan with deadly force, propelling it into the back of Steve Felix’s vehicle. 88-year-old Steve was headed to a family wedding when he was thrust into the car in front of him. The four-car pileup left Steve paralyzed from the waist down. Spencer Lucas of Panish | Shea | Boyle | Ravipudi LLP represented Steve and attained a $4,000,000 arbitration award using a presentation of his damages, illuminating his life-changing injuries.

Steve was taken by ambulance to the hospital. Medical imagery found blood pooling around his spine. Ultimately, Steve broke and dislocated his spine where his thoracic and lumbar vertebrae met, causing catastrophic spinal cord damage. As he recovered from surgery, his family contacted Spencer Lucas to help attain justice.

During a deposition, the Defendant driver denied responsibility for the incident. Astonishingly, he blamed Steve for the chain of collisions. Thus, Spencer retained an accident reconstructionist to extract the information from the big rig’s event data recorder. He discovered the Defendant was not driving carefully. Additionally, Spencer unearthed that the driver was unaware of safe driving practices and had a history of accidents. Later, he was deemed entirely responsible for the pileup.

Spencer organized a mountain of evidence and prepared a demand for the Defense’s $5,000,000 policy. However, even with the driver responsible, the carrier rejected his demand twice and undervalued Steve’s damages. Thus, Spencer provided his records to DK Global to animate his client’s injuries and reinforce his third demand.

With expert-backed testimony and medical imagery, Steve’s spinal injuries were recreated in 3D to illustrate the immense pain he suffered. His fractured and dislocated T12-L1 vertebra was displayed to show the cause of his paralysis. Finally, the collection of clotted blood around his spine and ligament tears was revealed.

On his third attempt, Spencer included the animation in his demand package. His diligence paid off – the carrier agreed to pay the full $5,000,000 policy limit. Next, Spencer showed the visual at arbitration to determine how the money would be divided between Steve and two other claimants. Spencer and Steve attended a four-day meeting with the other parties’ counsel and a retired judge. After reviewing Steve’s damages and lifetime medical expenses, the judge apportioned him $4,000,000 out of the recovered $5,000,000.

Spencer Lucas is a partner and trial lawyer at Southern California-based firm Panish | Shea | Boyle | Ravipudi LLP. He was recognized “On the Fast Track” by The Recorder magazine and consistently named a “Super Lawyer” and “Best Lawyer in America.” Spencer has obtained numerous multi-million-dollar verdicts and settlements in his career and prides himself on advocating for survivors of catastrophic trauma.

"It was great working with DK Global. They were very professional, they were very attentive. If we needed changes made to the imagery, they were right there and they got back to us quickly."
Spencer Lucas - Panish | Shea | Boyle | Ravipudi LLP
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