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CA Mother of Four Hit Broadside by Fire Engine Awarded 7-Figure Settlement

A group of California firefighters exploited the public’s trust just to get coffee. The first responders piled into a fire truck and barreled down busy city streets, speeding through intersections without lights or sirens. Their truck broadsided a mother of four who was driving to work. She suffered grievous back injuries in the crash, causing lifelong pain when walking and standing.

A deli worker at a local supermarket, the woman required multiple surgeries to correct the trauma to her spine. In addition, caring for her four children and serving people at the deli suddenly became far more difficult.

Trial attorney Lauren Horwitz was brought in to handle the case when her firm, BD&J Injury Lawyers of Los Angeles, determined it was likely going to trial. A litigator in the firm’s catastrophic injury practice group, she had a wealth of courtroom experience with similar lawsuits — and particular expertise in truck-related accidents.

Coming into the litigation late in the process, Horwitz quickly began to delve in. There was no question who was at fault, but what about damages? She wanted to understand how the Plaintiff’s life had changed. What was her life like before the accident? How did it change? The attorney’s sole goal was to prepare a rock-solid case to present to jurors.

In her early communications with the Defense, Lauren found them unwilling to play ball. They hid behind the fact that they were a government agency, using bureaucratic inefficiency as an excuse to ignore the case. When they finally came to the table, the Defense suggested that the spinal trauma that the Plaintiff claimed wasn’t necessarily from the collision with the fire engine. The woman had been involved in previous accidents and had prior back injuries. Thus, the Defense maintained, she would have ended up on the operating table anyway. Their initial offer was in the low six-figures: not good enough.

Lauren knew the key to the case was presenting it as simply and concisely as possible. She enlisted several experts to testify — doctors to explain the surgeries, accident reconstructionists to recount what happened. Preparing for trial, Lauren imagined herself sitting in the juror’s box, considering what she would want to know and what information would sway her. She knew she needed jurors to understand the severity of the Plaintiff’s injuries and how the life of this hard-working mother of four was forever altered. Lauren immediately recognized that she needed demonstratives to present this complex information. She turned to DK Global for help, having worked with them on previous cases.

The animation DK Global prepared for the case opened with a long list of the multiple surgical procedures the Plaintiff endured. Then, it segued to a rendering of the Plaintiff face-down on the operating table. First, surgeons made an incision in her lumbar region to access her spine. Next, they cut through two vertebrae to allow the removal of a herniated disc. The animation faded to a second surgery, this one depicting how surgeons installed a spinal stimulator to mask her chronic pain. In that procedure, doctors made an incision between the woman’s shoulder blades. They used needles to insert wires running the length of the Plaintiff’s back. Then, they made another cut above her pelvis, an opening that allowed for the placement of a spinal stimulator battery pack, which connected to the wiring that ran up her spine. The video made it unmistakable that the Plaintiff endured hours of very invasive surgery to correct severe back trauma.

The case went all the way to the day of jury selection. Right on the courtroom steps, the Defense decided to settle. Horwitz credited the quality of the DK Global demonstratives with forcing the Defense’s hand. They didn’t want a jury to see the animations. The Defense offered a mid-seven-figure settlement, which the Plaintiff accepted.

Lauren Horwitz has more than a decade of trial experience. A junior partner at BD&J Injury Lawyers in Los Angeles, Lauren is a member of the board of governors of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles (CAALA). The organization recognized her continuing contributions with its Presidential Award in 2019 and 2022. She was named a Super Lawyers Rising Star from 2016 through 2020 and a Super Lawyer in 2022 and 2023. Horwitz holds memberships in the Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC) and the American Association for Justice (AAJ).

"I certainly think that in this case, the demonstratives helped us settle the case not only quicker, but for a really great amount of money for our client."
Lauren Horwitz - BD&J, PC
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