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Accident Reconstruction Helps PSBR Secure $39.5M Settlement for Fatal Utility Truck Crash

A utility truck driver sped through the unincorporated backstreets of Fresno, California. As he approached an intersection, he ignored a stop sign and barreled into the junction, into the path of a Chevy Silverado pickup truck. Inside the pickup was a family of four: a mother in the front passenger seat, her eldest 23-year-old son in the driver’s seat, her 21-year-old son in the left passenger seat, and her 19-year-old daughter behind her. Caught off guard by the utility truck’s irresponsible driving and with the right-of-way, the eldest son had no time to react. The trucks t-boned each other with massive force, propelling the Silverado 100 yards in the opposite direction. The collision killed the two brothers, ejecting the youngest onto the dirt shoulder. The mother and daughter suffered traumatic brain injuries and significant emotional distress. After both women regained consciousness, they waited for help to arrive and watched helplessly as the two brothers succumbed to their injuries.

As they recovered in the hospital, the surviving family contacted Brian Panish and David Rudorfer of Panish | Shea | Boyle | Ravipudi LLP, seeking justice for the senseless collision. Brian and David filed their case on behalf of the entire family, including the father and the oldest brother’s wife. For two years, the Defense vehemently denied liability and attempted to minimize damages. They insisted their driver stopped at the intersection, the Plaintiffs were speeding, and the damages were overstated. In addition, they contended the younger brother was not wearing his seatbelt.

Brian and David collected evidence at the scene and conducted more than 30 depositions to understand how the crash took place. In addition, they retained a team of experts, including biomechanical engineers and accident reconstructionists, to testify that the crash's rapid acceleration and deceleration inflicted both women with traumatic brain injuries.

They refuted the opposition’s seatbelt defense, explaining that the belt would have been futile in preventing the youngest son’s death given the impact also killed the driver on the same side of the truck. However, to prove the negligent infliction of emotional distress claim, they needed to demonstrate the devastation both women experienced visually. Thus, Brian and David shared their findings with DK Global to reconstruct the crash.

The reconstruction began with a satellite view of the crossing. Then, using the experts' data, the utility truck smashed into the Chevy, causing both cars to overturn. Next, the impact replayed from the Defendant’s perspective, showing he had a clear view of the stop sign. Finally, the mother was pictured holding her son as he died, demonstrating the immense emotional stress both women suffered

David and Brian attended mediation armed with the accident reconstruction. They played the video for the opposition, giving them a glimpse of what the jury would see if they tried the case. Unfortunately, both parties were unable to come to a resolution. However, with trial closing in, Brian continued discussions with the Defense and agreed to a settlement of $39,500,000 for the surviving family.

Brian Panish is one of the country’s leading trial attorneys and was recently recognized by The American Lawyer as “2022 West Trailblazers”. In the past decade alone, Brian has secured over $500,000,000 in verdicts, obtaining some of the most significant jury resolutions in United States history. Today, Brian represents the surviving family of Halyna Hutchins, a cinematographer who was fatally shot by actor Alec Baldwin.

David Rudorfer of Panish | Shea | Boyle | Ravipudi LLP specializes in handling catastrophic injury and sexual abuse matters. In 2018, David was nominated by his peers for CAALA’s “Trial Lawyer of the Year.” Over his career, David has recovered more than $400,000,000 for his clients, resolving dozens of individual multimillion-dollar cases. 

"They [DK Global] make sure that what you're working on with the experts, lines up exactly with the expert opinions... so that you can feel confident that it's not just going to be used for settlement purposes – that you're going to be able to show it to the jury."
David Rudorfer – Panish | Shea | Boyle | Ravipudi LLP
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