Visualize Your Case
Minor Collision Causes Orthopedic Injuries, Resulting in $824K Award

A Lyft driver transported his passenger – a tall, young man named James – in his Honda Civic. James sat unbelted in the backseat, his head a few inches below the roof of the small sedan. Suddenly, as the driver turned left, an underinsured motorist hit his front end. Even at a low speed, the impact thrust James backward, causing him to hit his head against the roof. As a result, he suffered orthopedic injuries to his spine and shoulder, requiring a spinal fusion and arthroscopy surgery to manage his symptoms. Jon C. Teller of Wilshire Law Firm, PLC attained a combined $824,000 award using a reconstruction of the collision to demonstrate how James’ injuries occurred and why it deserved proper compensation.

Shortly after the incident, James reached out to Jon Teller to help manage his claims against both the underinsured driver and Lyft. After locating the underinsured motorist, Jon obtained the carrier’s $15,000 policy. Next, he shifted his attention to Lyft’s culpability, demanding compensation under their uninsured motorist coverage.

The Defense argued that because James was not wearing his seatbelt, they were not liable for his injuries. They contended the impact’s forces were minor and that the slight change in velocity could not have harmed James – similar to a game of bumper cars. Additionally, they retained a medical expert who insisted James’ injuries stemmed from degeneration, not trauma. The Defense offered $450,000 to settle the matter, but Jon refused.

Jon knew the collision caused James’ injuries, regardless of whether he was buckled in or not. However, as he worked up his case, he anticipated difficulty explaining the seatbelt’s irrelevance. Jon retained several experts to rebut the Defense’s assertions, including an accident reconstructionist, a biomechanical engineer, and an orthopedic surgeon. Then, he brought in DK Global to collaborate with his roster of specialists and prepare a visual demonstrative to use throughout the litigation. After several meetings, the team created an animation visualizing the crash’s mechanics that demonstrated why a seatbelt would have been futile to prevent James’ injuries.

The animation commenced with a recreation of the Lyft driver’s Honda Civic as it was struck from the front. Because of his height, the forces caused James’ head to whip backward and strike the car's roof, injuring his cervical spine and shoulder. Then, photos taken of James in the sedan were displayed, measuring his head only two inches away from the roof. An alternative scenario depicted James wearing a seatbelt. However, the belt did not reduce the force exerted on James’ neck as his head hit the ceiling, disproving the Defense’s argument. Finally, the scene replayed from James’ left side, presenting a skeletal view of his spine as it fractured.

Jon presented the animation to the judge and opposing counsel during the arbitration. After six days of deliberation, Jon showed James’ injuries would still have happened irrespective of whether he wore his seatbelt, securing an $824,000 award.

Jon C. Teller is a partner at Wilshire Law Firm, PLC, advocating for the survivors of catastrophic injuries and sexual misconduct. In 2020, he was recognized as the “Consumer Attorney of the Year” by the Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC) and was consecutively named “Top 40 under 40” by The National Trial Lawyers. Additionally, as a Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum member, Jon has produced over $60 million for his deserving clients, including a landmark $28,715,000 school district liability settlement in 2019.

"This case ultimately went to arbitration because the defense just refused to acknowledge that our client's injuries were the result of the collision... Without those animations, we probably would not have received the award that we did."
Jon C. Teller – Wilshire Law Firm, PLC
Let's Get Started
Get A Consult

Related Content

Favorable Award for Special Needs Victim of...
Teacher’s Child Abuse Causes Trauma and...
Bus Overturns Onto Woman; Settlement Reached...