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Woman Injured in T-bone Collision Awarded $1.5M Using Medical Illustrations

It was the summer of 2016 in Santa Cruz, California. Beachgoers flocked to the wharf to enjoy the weather and fresh seafood. A taxi driver making his routes approached a traffic light at Water Street. As the signal turned red, he barreled through the intersection, t-boning the driver’s side of a woman named Yolanda’s vehicle. The Defense contested both liability and the severity of her injuries. Consequently, Dan Schaar of Schaar & Silva LLP used illustrations detailing the overwhelming number of medical procedures she endured, attaining an over $1.5 million verdict.

Yolanda, an avid hiker and runner in her late 50’s, enjoyed her day at the wharf before heading north in her Volkswagen Passat. As she proceeded into the intersection on a green light, she was blindsided by the cab at 30 miles per hour. The impact totaled both vehicles. Surprisingly, after exchanging her contact and insurance information, Yolanda walked over a mile to get home before her back and shoulder pain worsened.

The next day, Yolanda sought medical care after her discomfort grew. Medical imagery revealed pinched nerves, disc protrusions, lumbar radiculopathy, a left rotator cuff impingement, among a litany of other issues. Treating doctors opined Yolanda would require a lifetime of medical care to manage her symptoms. Her choices were to proceed with invasive surgical intervention or undergo conservative measures like physical therapy, injections, and chiropractic sessions.

Yolanda opted for the latter and continued her bi-weekly treatment for over two years. Unfortunately, her shoulder pain persisted and interfered with her daily living, requiring a subacromial decompression procedure. Additionally, her cervical radiculitis caused constant numbness and tingling in her upper body, forcing her to undergo spinal surgery.

As she recovered, Yolanda’s initial attorney referred Dan Schaar of Schaar & Silva LLP to take on her case. Dan began by subpoenaing the footage taken from the taxi cab’s dashboard camera. However, the company claimed it had been lost and argued Yolanda ran the red light. Dan looked to resolve the matter for $500,000, but the Defense refused to come close to that demand, offering only $300,000. Finally, a month before a trial, the Defense released the video and admitted liability. As a result, Dan shifted his strategy to focus on illustrating and quantifying Yolanda’s damages. Dan brought on DK Global to enhance Yolanda’s medical records and operative reports into a series of comprehensible medical illustrations detailing her arduous road to recovery.

First, a presentation chronologically displayed the injections she endured over two years until an overwhelming view of 70 syringes blanketed Yolanda’s back. Then, Yolanda’s shoulder surgery was shown: a shaver debrided the inflamed bursa in her rotator cuff and excised her clavicle to improve mobility. Finally, Yolanda’s discectomy and cervical fusion showed the opening of the front of her neck to repair her spine. Surgical tools including scalpels, rongeurs, and curettes removed the damaged cervical discs and secured artificial ones using metal plates.

Dan and his medical experts presented the medical illustrations to a jury during trial. After reviewing the excruciating medical procedures Yolanda underwent, the jury returned with a verdict of $1.51 million in non-economic damages.

Dan Schaar of Schaar & Silva LLP 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 actually interesting. We're dealing with post-trial issues right now with the defense being very upset with how good the visuals really were."
Dan Schaar - Schaar & Silva LLP
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