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Reconstructing Bicyclist’s Traumatic Brain Injury Results in $2.3M Award

It was a sunny Friday morning – the marine layer had faded from the Florida coast, and it was a beautiful day for a bike ride. Nearby, construction companies worked on various infrastructure projects to keep up with the area’s rapid growth. However, one company left a large, unmarked water hose across a public sidewalk for four months without closing the path. Consequently, a bicyclist toppled over it and suffered a life-altering brain injury. Joe Kopacz of Morgan & Morgan attained a $2.3 million award for the woman using an animated reconstruction of the incident and an overview of her damages.

A woman and her husband were enjoying a bicycle ride along Apollo Beach. As the couple rode past the construction zone, the front wheel of the woman’s bike caught the hose. She flipped over the handlebars and landed headfirst onto the concrete. Astonishingly, none of the construction workers came to her aid as she writhed on the floor. The woman’s husband took her to a hospital. There, medical imagery revealed fractures to her skull, clavicle, pelvis, and several ribs. As days passed, she began experiencing debilitating brain injury symptoms like headaches, depression, panic attacks, and more. Ultimately, she was unable to return to work as a realtor.

The day after the incident, the woman’s husband contacted Joe Kopacz, seeking justice for his wife’s devastating injuries and suffering. Joe agreed and began the litigation by locating the owner of the hose. Once Joe found the responsible party, he filed his claim. The Defense asserted Joe’s client had comparative fault for her injuries, claiming she was not actively aware of her surroundings. To refute their argument, Joe organized a roster of experts to testify that the construction company operated negligently.

First, Joe retained a human factors consultant who confirmed his client did not have enough time to notice the hose as she rode through the construction zone. Next, a Florida Maintenance of Traffic (MOT) professional established that it was the construction company’s duty to close off the sidewalks and that they were liable for any injuries that occurred. As the woman continued with her medical care, Joe enlisted the help of several medical experts who testified to the gravity of her injuries. Then, Joe worked with a lifecare planner to quantify the woman’s economic losses and future medical needs. Finally, Joe brought on DK Global to complement his experts’ testimonies by simulating the incident and illustrating his client’s resulting damages.

The presentation began with a satellite view of the location where the Plaintiff was injured, showing the Defendant had violated MOT regulations for months. Then, a recreation of the woman’s fall displayed her coup-contrecoup injury – when her brain ricocheted inside of her skull due to the force of her fall – as her head collided with the cement. The animation transitioned to a 3D model of the woman, depicting the severity of her orthopedic fractures. The woman’s medical imagery was enhanced, colorized, and displayed, allowing lay viewers to see the lesions and hemorrhaging throughout her brain. Lastly, with the help of Joe’s retained neurology specialist, the woman’s cognitive deficits listed alongside the afflicted lobes: delayed memory, poor cognitive performance, anxiety, and more.

Due to the 2020 pandemic, Joe’s trial in September was postponed, prompting him to enter a non-binding arbitration. With the DK Global presentation showing the incident and his experts’ testimonies, Joe received a $2.3 million award for his client.

Before joining Morgan & MorganJoe Kopacz worked as a Defense Attorney for numerous large insurance companies. He received invaluable experience and knowledge that now aids his current clients who suffered catastrophic injuries. Recently, Joe has received an “AV Preeminent Rating” by Martindale-Hubbell, the highest peer rating given to attorneys who rank at the highest level of professional excellence.

"Honestly, the visual aids made the case much simpler, more digestible– so the animations and what DK Global offers definitely help."
Joe Kopacz – Morgan & Morgan
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