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Bus Passenger Suffers Minor TBI, Fractures, and PTSD After Bus Flips

F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote, “a bad driver is safe until she meets another driver.” That was certainly the case when a speeding big rig blew through a three-way T-intersection and slammed into a city bus as it was making a careless rolling stop. The high-speed collision sent one of the passengers flying into the air like a rag doll and left her with a minor traumatic brain injury (TBI) as well as a litany of other wounds.

The big rig was traveling roughly 40 miles per hour as it ignored the stop sign and collided with the bus; the impact force was strong enough to topple the bus onto its side. Inside the bus, the woman slammed into the ceiling, floor, and even up against the sides. While lucky to be alive, she walked away with a brain injury, two spinal fractures, and debilitating PTSD from the accident.

In the wake of her horrific accident, the woman sought the counsel of David Rudorfer, a personal injury attorney at Panish | Shea | Boyle | Ravipudi LLP. When David and his co-counsel saw the footage, it was clear the reckless big rig driver was at fault. However, after a closer rewatch, they noticed that the bus driver had failed to make a complete stop. Had the city bus driver adhered to the rules of the road, the accident wouldn’t have happened.

While liability had seemed open and shut at first glance, David realized the significance of the bus driver’s rolling stop. He sought the help of accident reconstructionists, human factors experts, and engineers to demonstrate how even a one-second stop could have saved the Plaintiff from the physical and emotional trauma of the accident. In addition, David didn’t hesitate to seek out a company to work on an animation for the case. He knew that visual aids allowed potential jurors to truly feel the terror of the collision, and that a video could illustrate both the Plaintiff’s physical injuries as well as her emotional distress. He called on DK Global to fill that need with a presentation that combined 3D animation with footage from inside the bus.

The video began with the bus’s security camera footage. The driver was shown making the incomplete stop and turning left. Next, a jolt flung the Plaintiff against the window and launched her across the bus as if she were weightless. Other passengers helped as she stumbled off the bus, blood flowing down her face. The video then switched to an animation of the Plaintiff’s head, depicting the coup contrecoup injury she experienced when the crash caused her brain to slam against both sides of her skull. A follow-up animation of her skull and the different brain regions then portrayed the consequences of such an injury. The animated Plaintiff then reappeared, and the video showed the locations of two fractures in her upper cervical spine — nondisplaced fractures through the base of her odontoid and her C2 vertebral body. Last, the video listed the rest of the injuries the Plaintiff suffered in the crash, including a somatoform disorder, a laceration to her scalp, multiple abrasions, a comminuted fracture to one of her fingers, and fluid in her right mastoid antrum.

While the big rig had a policy for one million dollars that they tendered without hesitation, David wasn’t going to walk away without doing everything in his power to help his client. He showed the video to the city’s Defense team at mediation, and there was no doubt that a prospective jury would find fault in the bus driver as well. The city decided to settle for $2,100,000. With the $1,000,000 from the big rig company, David secured his client a $3,100,000 settlement for her injuries.

David Rudorfer is a trial lawyer at Panish | Shea | Boyle | Ravipudi LLP, based in Southern California. He specializes in personal injury and wrongful death cases. Over his legal career, David has secured over $500,000,000 in settlements for his clients. He has twice been nominated for the “Trial Lawyer of the Year” award by the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles (CAALA) and made the 2022 list of Top 5 Trial Lawyers of the Year.

"I would say with confidence that, without the help of DK Global, we wouldn't have been able to get this result."
David Rudorfer — Panish | Shea | Boyle | Ravipudi LLP
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