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Medical Illustrations Help Secure $1.5M Verdict for Taxi T-Bone Collision

In the summer of 2016, people flocked to the beach to enjoy the weather and fresh seafood along the Santa Cruz Wharf. A taxi driver making his routes approached a traffic light at Water Street. He blew through the intersection as the signal turned red, t-boning the driver’s side of a woman’s vehicle.

Yolanda, an avid hiker and runner in her late 50’s, enjoyed her day at the wharf before heading north. She proceeded into an intersection with a green light when her Volkswagen Passat was struck by the taxi at 30 miles per hour. The accident totaled both vehicles. Surprisingly, after exchanging her contact and insurance information, Yolanda walked over a mile to get home before the back and shoulder pain gradually set in.

The day after the crash, Yolanda was in such unbearable discomfort that she sought medical care. Scans showed she suffered cervical radiculitis and disc protrusion, lumbar radiculopathy, a left rotator cuff impingement, and more. Doctors assessing her damages opined she would need medical care for the rest of her life. They discussed the possible need for a cervical discectomy and fusion to alleviate her symptoms.

In an attempt to recover conservatively, doctors recommended physical therapy, a series of injections, and radiofrequency ablations along her back. Yolanda continued this treatment every two weeks for over two years. Unfortunately, the soreness persisted and interfered with her daily living. The pain in her left shoulder worsened, forcing her to undergo a subacromial decompression procedure. Additionally, she experienced numbness and tingling in her upper extremities due to her cervical radiculitis. With no options left, Yolanda proceeded with the spinal surgery.

As she recovered, Dan Schaar of Carpenter, Zuckerman & Rowley was referred by Yolanda’s initial attorney to lead her litigation. After reviewing the case’s details, Dan agreed to represent Yolanda, seeking compensation from the taxi driver and his insurance carrier.

Most taxis have dashcams to record incidents and promote safety. When Dan subpoenaed the footage from the accident, the taxi company claimed it had been lost. In addition, the Defendants argued it was Yolanda who ran the red light. To resolve the matter, Dan offered to settle the case for $500,000. However, the Defense refused to come close to that demand, offering only $300,000.

A month before trial, the video recording from the accident was found and produced, prompting the Defense to admit liability. Dan shifted his focus to communicating Yolanda’s damages. To bring life to the cold medical imagery for the jury to comprehend, Dan contacted DK Global to create illustrations of Yolanda’s extensive medical care.

The illustrations conveyed Yolanda’s injuries and her diligent attempts to recover. First, a presentation chronologically depicted the injections Yolanda endured over two years. After all her doses were detailed, the illustration concluded with an overwhelming view of 70 syringes blanketing her back. Then, Yolanda’s shoulder surgery was displayed: a shaver debrided her rotator cuff to perform a bursectomy and excise her clavicle. Finally, the invasive discectomy and cervical fusion showed the anterior opening to her spine. Scalpels, rongeurs, curettes, and other tools were used to remove the damaged cervical discs, implant artificial ones, and secure them with metal plates.

During trial, Dan and his retained medical experts presented Yolanda’s medical procedures to the jury. After careful deliberation, the jury returned with a verdict of $1.51 million in non-economic damages for Yolanda.

Dan Schaar of Carpenter, Zuckerman & Rowley has over a decade of commendable experience in the courtroom. He serves as a Trial by Human instructor, educating attorneys nationwide with his knowledge and expertise. For three consecutive years, he has received recognition from his peers and was nominated for “Trial Lawyer of the Year” by the Santa Clara County Trial Lawyers Association. Notably, Dan has been recognized as a “Super Lawyer” for the past two years.

"It's that extra bump you get from the visuals. It completes that picture, and I think it definitely helped our jurors reach the right result."
Dan Schaar - Carpenter, Zuckerman & Rowley
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