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Woman Crashes Into Mulcher – Defense-favored Settlement Using Accident Reconstruction

It was a clear, sunny morning along US Highway 45 in Columbus, Mississippi. A woman traveled southbound in her 2004 White GMC Yukon at 60 miles per hour. Roadwork signs warned motorists of an approaching construction zone where city-contracted workers removed trees and vegetation. Despite this, the woman continued and failed to proceed cautiously. With no signs of stopping, she barreled towards a large forestry mulcher that was slowly traversing the highway and crashed. Jay Atkins of McAngus Goudelock & Courie, an insurance defense attorney with 20 years of experience, represented the vegetation management company and attained a favorable outcome using an accident reconstruction animation that demonstrated the woman’s culpability.

The operator of the forestry mulcher carefully crossed the highway to continue his work. As he noticed the woman speeding towards him, he attempted to reverse out of the way, but it was too late. The woman’s SUV smashed into the front end of the mulcher, ripping her door off completely and significantly injuring them both. Highway patrol officers recorded the operator’s statement at the scene of the accident. However, due to his head injury, he had difficulty recalling which lane the accident occurred in. He stated he was coming out of the median strip and entered the far-left lane when the woman struck him. When officers requested a statement from the woman, she asserted she was safely traveling in the far-left lane when the mulcher darted out in front of her unexpectedly.

The woman filed a lawsuit against the vegetation management company. As a result, the company requested Jay Atkins’ help defending themselves against the wrongful claim. Jay anticipated a potential jury would appoint his client comparative fault because the operator should have waited for a vehicle to escort him across safely. In turn, Jay’s goal was to minimize his client’s percentage of responsibility for the crash and illustrate the Plaintiff’s negligent driving. During discovery, Jay attained surveillance footage of the collision from two nearby businesses and retained an accident reconstructionist to investigate the Plaintiff’s event data recorder.

The video vaguely showed the woman traveling in the far-right lane – not the left – when the collision occurred, contradicting both their testimonies. Furthermore, Jay’s expert revealed the woman failed to brake and take any evasive maneuvers before the crash, revealing her inattentiveness. To refine the video and clearly depict the woman’s careless driving, Jay appointed DK Global to collaborate with him and his expert to reconstruct the collision and bring the truth to light.

The presentation commenced with the surveillance footage enhanced with color-coded lanes to show the woman and Defendant’s position. Next, the woman was shown in the far-right lane – a large distance away from the mulcher – with no obstructions ahead of her. Simultaneously, the mulcher cautiously moved across the highway as a timer counted down the time until impact, revealing that the woman had ample time to avoid the collision if she had been driving carefully. Then, with the data attained from the woman’s black box, the crash was reconstructed from her perspective, showing her make no attempts to slow down even with the mulcher in plain sight.

With the DK Global accident reconstruction depicting the truth, Jay attended mediation and attained a favorable settlement, saving valuable time and resources.

For 20 years, Jay Atkins of McAngus Goudelock & Courie has focused on defending his clients in construction litigation, products liability, and transportation law. He has earned the Martindale Hubbell Peer Review Rating of “AV Preeminent” and was recognized as a Super Lawyers “Rising Star.” Outside of the courtroom, Jay presents at legal seminars, sharing his valuable expertise and trial tactics.

"The case settled with mediation primarily because of the video animation by DK Global, in my opinion. We were able to use the video and let the mediator come to his own conclusion – which was exactly what we wanted it to be."
Jay Atkins – McAngus Goudelock & Courie, LLC
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