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Layers of County’s Insurance Yields $15M Settlement for Brain Injury from Truck Collision

A truck driver employed by California’s Napa County traveled down the Silverado Trail – a two-lane highway – hauling nearly 30,000 pounds of asphalt. Up ahead was a group of women in a white Honda Accord, waiting to turn left into a strawberry patch’s parking lot. Tragically, the truck driver rear-ended the small sedan with deadly force. John Carpenter of Carpenter & Zuckerman represented Diana, a 20-year-old woman who sat in the backseat. While John obtained an unprecedented $15,000,000 settlement during mediation, it required him to persuade layer after layer of the county’s insurance policy.

Diana and her friends were traveling to a relative’s house. The truck driver failed to hit his brakes and rear-ended them at 45 miles per hour. The crash propelled Diana forward, causing her face to impact the back of her friend’s skull. She lost consciousness, suffering a severe TBI and facial lacerations. She was rushed to an emergency room and rendered into a deep coma. When she awoke, she had no recollection of the incident.

After several months, Diana recovered remarkably, considering the brutality of the crash. Still, MRIs of her brain revealed dead tissue in her frontal lobe, impacting her ability to regulate emotions, speech, and executive functioning. In addition, her brain injury aggravated a pre-existing psychiatric condition. Doctors consulted with Diana and her family, informing them that her afflictions would manifest as early-onset dementia in her thirties.

Diana reached out to John Carpenter to help her obtain justice for her life-changing injuries. John wanted to convey to the Defense how much the crash impacted her well-being. He discovered Diana was an intelligent and successful high school student, attaining ACT/SAT scores in the 93rd percentile. He encouraged her to continue pursuing her education at a state university as he litigated her case. With accommodations, Diana’s grades improved compared to before the collision. As a result, the Defense contested the severity of her damages. Both John and the Defense retained neuropsychologists, each of which concluded that her post-crash IQ score was 98.

John needed to show that Diana’s cognition and mental health deteriorated due to the wreck. He used the Defense’s findings against them, centering the case around Diana’s IQ. He brought on an educational psychologist who correlated Diana’s high school ACT/SAT scores to a pre-incident IQ of 118-124 — sadly, Diana lost 20 IQ points. With mediation on the horizon, John enlisted the help of a biomechanical engineer and a team of medical experts to attest to Diana’s injuries. Then, John and his experts collaborated with DK Global, crafting an accident reconstruction and damages presentation to illustrate Diana’s profound traumatic brain injuries.

The accident reconstruction began with the 24,000-pound dump truck being filled with over 28,000 pounds of asphalt. Next, the inside of the Honda Accord was recreated, showing the monstrous county vehicle in the rear window approaching Diana and her friends. With the experts’ direction, the animation showed the women being hit with the same force as a sedan crashing at 160 miles per hour. The impact thrust Diana’s body forward, her head striking the front passenger headrest. Last, Diana’s damages were highlighted alongside enhancements of her medical imagery, including brain hemorrhaging and subdural hematomas.

John sent the animation to the opposing counsel and their multiple insurance carriers. After reviewing the animation, Napa County’s attorneys met John for mediation. Knowing a trial verdict could have been even higher, the Defense agreed to settle the case, securing Diana a record-breaking $15,000,000.

For over 25 years, John Carpenter of Carpenter & Zuckerman has obtained monumental awards for his deserving clients. With a focus on love and truth, John prides himself on attaining justice for those devastated by wrongdoings. In 2017, John was nominated for “Attorney of the Year” by the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles and was selected among the “Top 100 Attorneys” by The National Trial Lawyers.

"I knew that I wanted to have something that was clear, that was consistent, that was compelling, that was communicating our message to every layer of insurance."
John Carpenter - Carpenter & Zuckerman
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