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Family Suffers Catastrophic Losses and TBI Injuries After Utility Truck T-Bones Pickup

On a rural road outside Fresno, California, an electrical utility truck driver heading southbound approached an intersection with a two-way stop sign. East/west traffic at the intersection did not have any controls (e.g., a stop sign) and thus had the right-of-way. The utility truck driver failed to stop for the stop sign and entered the intersection. Traveling eastbound, a pickup truck carried a family of four – a mother, her daughter, and her two sons – to a nearby wedding. The utility truck careened into the driver’s side of the pickup, sending it rolling over 100 yards and shearing the engine off. The collision severely injured the mother and daughter. But tragically, the two sons died.

Both the mother and daughter (right front and right rear passenger) suffered mild traumatic brain injuries. However, they also suffered the incredible trauma of watching their family die on the scene. The son in the driver’s seat suffered massive head and neck trauma, and the son in the rear seat was ejected from the vehicle. Additionally, the father of the two young men had to receive a call that no parent ever wants to get, and the young wife of one of the men found herself suddenly widowed.

While the surviving family was recovering in the hospital, they contacted Brian Panish and David Rudorfer of Panish | Shea | Boyle | Ravipudi LLP. Rudorfer described this case as the most tragic he’s ever worked or even heard of while in practice. Adding to the complexity of this case was that Rudorfer and Panish were representing six plaintiffs in total: the estates of the two decedents, the mother and daughter who both suffered physical and emotional trauma, the father who suffered at the loss of his two sons, and the young wife who lost her husband.

The Defendant claimed that he had, in fact, stopped and that the victims’ vehicle “came out of nowhere,” allegedly due to traveling at a high rate of speed. Brian and David knew at the outset of the case that to counter the Defense, it wasn’t a matter of whether they would use visuals but rather how. Therefore, they engaged DK Global very early on in the case to illustrate the dynamics of the collision and synthesize the expert testimony in a way that was visually compelling and easy for a jury to digest.

By combining the physical evidence from the scene, photographs, and accident reconstruction expert testimony, DK Global produced a visual recreation of the collision from multiple angles. It showed follow views of each vehicle, as well as the Defendant’s point of view from inside the utility truck. The demonstrative depicted not just the impact but the aftereffects as well, including the engine separating and the ejection of one of the victims, refuting the claim by the Defendant that they were not at fault.

As the trial date approached, the parties attended an unsuccessful mediation to try to resolve the case. With their focus on the upcoming trial, David pressed on and continued working with DK Global to build additional animations for the presentation. Brian also readied himself for trial and maintained open communication with the Defense. Shortly before trial, the Defense offered to resolve the case for $39.5 million, which the attorneys felt was a fair and full compensation for the Plaintiffs.

David Rudorfer is a trial lawyer at Panish | Shea | Boyle | Ravipudi LLP, who represents individuals in personal injury and wrongful death cases. He has extensive experience handling serious injury cases involving traumatic brain injuries, severe injuries, paralysis injuries, and amputations, as well as any injuries leading to death. He also has extensive experience with injury or wrongful death cases involving commercial vehicle collisions, drownings, explosions, power lines, premises liability, and workplace incidents.

Los Angeles-based personal injury lawyer Brian Panish is one of the country’s leading trial attorneys who has obtained some of the most significant jury verdicts in United States history on behalf of Plaintiffs. His courtroom victories include a $4.9 billion record verdict in the landmark products liability case Anderson v. General Motors, over 100 verdicts and settlements in excess of $10 million, six verdicts over of $50 million, and more than 500 verdicts and settlements above $1 million dollars in personal injury, car accident, wrongful death, and business litigation cases.

"You can feel confident that it's not just going to be used for settlement purposes. You're going to be able to show it to a jury."
David Rudorfer - Panish | Shea | Boyle | Ravipudi LLP
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