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Scorched Earth Strategy Attains TBI Victim of Highway Crash $6.6M Settlement

The thought of the Fourth of July calls to mind sparklers, summer days, and sizzling grills. In 2018, cars on the Overseas Highway in Marathon, Florida, were on their way to barbecues and beaches when they witnessed a speeding 80,000-pound tractor-trailer broadside an armored truck as it completed an illegal U-turn. Luis Diaz, a messenger for the company that owned the armored truck, was sitting passenger as the driver crossed two lanes of traffic into the path of the big rig. After the collision, Luis had to be airlifted to the Level One trauma center at Jackson Hospital in Miami to undergo a craniotomy and several other emergency surgeries.

The accident changed Luis for life; his injuries were so extensive that he lost his ability to work, to interact the same way with his friends and family, and to live normally. He was essentially blinded in one eye, sustained a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI), and suffered clavicle, face, mouth palate, and multiple rib fractures. He was lucky to be alive. Still, Luis and his family wanted restitution for the extreme damage that the collision caused. Luis was certain the big rig driver was at fault: at the time of the accident, the driver of the tractor-trailer was traveling at 44 miles per hour in a 35 zone, and talking on his cell phone. As soon as they could, the Diaz family called attorneys Benjamin Lucas of BLUCAS LAW and Christopher Drury of Drury Law Firm to take on their case.

The two personal injury lawyers took a “scorched earth” approach to litigating Luis’s case. They collected a mountain of evidence from the scene, which involved a thorough inspection of both vehicles. The experts Ben and Chris hired found twelve defects in the tractor-trailer that contributed to the crash, most notably faulty brakes. Thus, they proved that the big rig company and its driver acted with gross negligence. They also proved, through their experts, that the armored truck’s U-Turn maneuver was grossly negligent, overcoming the Florida worker’s comp exception, and exposing the armored truck company to liability. Ben and Chris obtained orders to assert punitive damages on both Defendants, but the Defendants appealed those orders in the Third District Court in Miami. Ben and Chris enlisted the help of acclaimed appellate attorney Allen Bonner of South Florida Appeals, whose work resulted in the appellate court’s affirmance of the lower court’s orders.

Ben and Chris utilized several renowned medical experts, including a lifecare planner, an economist, a forensic psychologist, a neurologist, and a highly decorated neurosurgeon. However, they needed help translating medical jargon into lay terms to communicate the severity of Luis’ injuries. They also knew that despite possessing a massive volume of evidence, they needed a way to concisely communicate what the evidence meant that kept their attention. They reached out to DK Global and collaborated on a visualization of Luis’s TBI and craniotomy.

The video began by showing an animated version of Luis on an operating room table, his head held in place with a horseshoe Mayfield headrest. Pictures of the Plaintiff accompanied the first animated sequences, showing that the facial and head wounds depicted in the animation were exact renderings of Luis’s injuries. The animation then demonstrated the process of Luis’s complex craniotomy, beginning with an incision across his brow under which his severe skull fracture was immediately evident. The animation switched to a view of Luis’s skull around his temple, where burr holes were drilled and bone was cut to remove a “bone flap” about the size of his eye socket. Then, the bone flap was replaced and secured with plates. Next, the video returned to a view of Luis on the table with his skull exposed. Finally, a drain was threaded into Luis’s epidural space. His skin was sewn back together and dressed, leaving room for the drain to remain in his brain.

Both Defendants initially came to the table with zero-dollar offers. They tried to pin liability on either Luis or the other Defendant. Mediation was unsuccessful. The finger-pointing finally ended after Allen’s success in the appellate briefing, after which the Defense began to consider settlements. The first offer came nearly four years after the day of the collision. In addition to the $6,000,000 insurance policy limits, Christopher and Ben were able to secure an additional $500,000 over the policies as well as a $100,000 under-insured policy claim for Luis and his wife — a total of $6,600,000 — finally bringing the Diaz family some closure after their long nightmare.

Christopher Drury of Drury Law Firm is a personal injury attorney based out of Coral Gables since 2004. He is the immediate past President of the Miami-Dade Trial Lawyers Association and was listed on the Florida Super Lawyers list in 2021 and 2022. He mainly prosecutes severe personal injury cases as well as larger-scale complex business disputes such as class action lawsuits.

Benjamin Lucas of BLUCAS LAW is a car accident and injury lawyer in the Miami area. His premiere area of expertise is the litigation of catastrophic personal injury cases involving motor vehicles. He was voted one of Miami’s Best Truck Accident Lawyers by in 2021.

"It's a night and day difference to see something or to hear about it. Seeing it, you live it."
Benjamin Lucas - BLUCAS LAW
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