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Multiple Spinal Discs Removed Due to Multi-Vehicle Collision with 40-Ton Truck

A neglectful tractor-trailer hauling over 80,000 pounds of construction debris was racing down the I-10 highway in Acadiana, Louisiana. Not too far ahead in the same lane, a mother was on her way to watch her son play in a championship game at Grambling State University, riding in a pickup truck with her sister in the driver's seat. The pair slowed as they approached a stretch of highway notorious for traffic. But the truck behind them barreled on.

As the two vehicles approached the standstill, a third sedan suddenly cut off the speeding semi. Traveling too fast to react, the 18-wheeler collided with the sedan's rear fender, which then careened into the pickup. The collision sent the women's vehicle skidding off the highway and onto the median. The mother suffered severe orthopedic injuries, including damage to her spine and shoulder. She required multiple spinal fusions and arthroscopic surgery to address her injuries. After the accident, the mother came into the office of Dominick "Rusty" Bianca and Fielding C. Matkins of Bianca | Matkins to seek justice for her injuries.

Proving the semi driver's liability posed a significant challenge in the case. The Defense contended that the middle vehicle was at fault for pulling in front of the truck and causing the collision, thereby absolving them of responsibility. To overcome this obstacle, Rusty and Fielding hired an accident reconstructionist. The expert used the vehicle's event data recorders to determine that the semi was traveling so fast that it would have hit the pickup truck regardless of the initial collision. However, Rusty and Fielding felt the expert’s report alone was not enough to persuade a jury on their theory of liability. They wanted a way to visually depict both what happened during the accident, as well as the damage sustained as a result. They turned to DK Global for animations based on the reconstruction expert and medical evidence to accurately create a reconstruction of the incident and surgery the mother underwent to repair her injuries.

The first animation set the scene with an aerial view of the highway where the incident occurred. Then, the focus was brought upon the three vehicles making their way down the road. Next, the sedan was shown cutting off the truck, leading to a chain reaction that ended with the rear-end collision of the mother and sister's pickup. Additionally, a recreation of the impact from the mother's point of view was animated. Finally, the animation depicted a skeletal view of the mother's spine and shoulder as they fractured. Her spine was highlighted where the seat impacted the lumbar, thoracic, and cervical spine.

The next animation showed the surgeries the mother endured. First, a life-like recreation was animated of the mother as a scalpel made an incision on her neck. Then, a metal clamp held her skin and muscle open as a pituitary rongeur emerged to remove the damaged discs from her cervical vertebrae. After treating the remaining bone, a PEEK allograft was inserted as a replacement, held together with a metal plate and ten screws. Finally, the animation showed the same surgical procedure performed on her lumbar vertebrae.

The Defense attempted to move the lawsuit to mediation. But with a strong case in hand, Rusty and Fielding did not agree to mediation and were adamant about taking it to trial. Ultimately, they presented the Defense with a settlement package containing the reconstruction specialist’s report, treating physician’s deposition, and the animations created by DK Global. With this settlement package, Rusty and Fielding convinced the Defense to settle for the insurance carrier's remaining policy limit—a seven-figure outcome.

Dominick "Rusty" Bianca is the founding partner of Bianca | Matkins. After proudly serving his country for 20 years, Rusty retired from the U.S. Army Reserves with the rank of Major. Rusty is an esteemed member of the American Association for Justice, The Baton Rouge Bar Association, and The Louisiana State Bar Association. Rusty also serves on the Louisiana Association for Justice Board of Governors.

Fielding C. Matkins is a partner at Bianca | Matkins. While at LSU Law School, Fielding served as the Executive Director of Programming for the Student Bar Association. In 2020, Fielding earned his Juris Doctor and Diploma in Comparative Law from LSU's Paul M. Hebert Law Center. Fielding is a member of the Louisiana Association for Justice, Louisiana State Bar Association, New Orleans Federal Bar Association, and member of the Baton Rouge Bar Association.

"This is actually the first case that we reached out to DK Global on, but we will be doing it again in the future because they put together a really good product."
Dominick Bianca - Bianca | Matkins
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