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Low Speed Car Crash Results in Serious Neck and Shoulder Injuries for Lyft Passenger

An underinsured driver headed down a road inattentively toward another vehicle. The driver made an errant left turn, and in the process struck a sedan that was on-the-clock for Lyft. A young man was seated in the rear driver’s side of the Lyft. The impact threw him forward and then backward. As he jerked back, he hit the roof of the vehicle, suffering injuries to his neck and shoulder.

Both the underinsured driver and the Lyft vehicle were driving at low speeds when the collision occurred. However, the Lyft passenger’s injuries from forces of the crash required cervical fusion and shoulder arthroscopy surgeries. Notably, the young man was not wearing a seatbelt when the accident happened. Consequently, Lyft’s underinsured motorist policy denied his claim. The victim decided to hire legal help.

Jon Teller, a personal injury attorney at Wilshire Law Firm in Los Angeles, CA, agreed to take the case. With more than a decade of experience grappling with large insurance companies, Jon sought UIM coverage for his client. Still, he could see several obstacles in the Plaintiff’s way. As a former Defense attorney, Jon anticipated the opposition would hire experts who alleged the Plaintiff would have been safe and secure if he were simply belted in. In addition, the Defense had biomechanics experts claim the Plaintiff was injured due to his own negligence.

Adding to Jon’s challenges, the Delta V rating was very low, and there was very little property damage. The Defense categorized the crash as little more than bumper cars. They argued that the accident couldn’t have caused the Plaintiff’s neck and shoulder trauma. To that end, they hired another expert who alleged the Plaintiff must have had a degenerative condition before the incident occurred.

To refute the Defense’s claims, Jon worked with his own experts who proved his client would have sustained the same injuries, irrespective of the seat belt. He concluded an animation could put viewers right at the scene as if they witnessed the crash unfold. Jon turned to DK Global for the demonstrative. Along with help from accident reconstructionists, biomechanics, and spine surgery experts, DK Global created an animation that showed why the lack of seatbelt didn’t make a difference in this case.

The animation opened with a depiction of the two vehicles slammed together. The perspective then switched to the interior of the car, where the Plaintiff was seated behind the driver. DK Global first rendered what happened to him in real time. The initial illustration showed him from the front, then tossed back upon impact. Next, a side-view made clear that not only was the Plaintiff jolted backward, but the impact slammed his head on the roof and the neck support. Last, the animation displayed an alternative scenario where the Plaintiff was wearing a seatbelt. It demonstrated that his injuries would have been almost identical whether he was belted or not.

Prior to arbitration, the Defense offered $450,000 to settle the case. Jon and his client decided this wasn’t good enough. He and his team took their case to arbitration, and with the help of DK Global secured an award of $824,000, almost double the initial offering.

Jonathan C. Teller is a trial attorney at Wilshire Law Firm in Los Angeles. He specializes in representing clients against insurance companies. He’s been named a Super Lawyers Rising Star from 2019-2022 and was listed among the “Best Lawyers, Ones to Watch” in 2021 and 2022. He was a nominee for Attorney of the Year by Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC) in 2020, and in 2021 was nominated for the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles (CAALA) Trial Lawyer of the Year. He serves as an Honorary Board Member for the Los Angeles Trial Lawyers Charities.


"The verbal explanation only goes so far, but when you have an animation that is so clear and you can almost feel like you were there at the scene of the crash witnessing what happened to our client, it makes all the difference."
Jon C. Teller - Wilshire Law Firm
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