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Plaintiff Without Seatbelt Suffered Spinal, Orthopedic & Brain Injuries

When a company hosted a high-end car event in Napa Valley, California, one of its employees took a car for a spin without taking proper precautions. On a winding road, she lost control of the vehicle. The driver careened into the other lane, causing a head-on collision and injuring everyone involved, including a passenger in the backseat of the car she was driving.

The backseat passenger was a wife and mother in her forties who had been at the event for work. She suffered significant injuries from the crash, including head-to-toe orthopedic injuries, a spinal injury that required surgery, and a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI).

Ted Wacker of the Law Offices of Ted B. Wacker happened to be in San Francisco for a conference when he got a call from a colleague about the collision. As soon as the conference ended, he met with the victim and her husband in the hospital, where she was still being treated for injuries from the crash. Ted immediately began gathering evidence that would prove essential in his role as her advocate.

One of the first challenges in the case was the fact that the Plaintiff had not been wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash. The car’s rear seats had been taken out, and she got in of her own volition. The Defense would argue that it was her unsafe choice that put her in the position to be so severely injured. However, Ted found state code that put the onus for seatbelt usage on the driver. In addition, the driver of the car had admitted to felony reckless driving, placing the blame for the crash and its consequences squarely on her shoulders, not the Plaintiff’s.

The other challenge was that while her injuries were traumatic, the Plaintiff made a significant recovery. While she underwent surgery to repair her spinal injuries, from outside appearances, she didn’t seem to be suffering long-term orthopedic consequences from the crash. Her brain injuries were also a challenge. Ted anticipated it would be difficult for juries to understand the nature of traumatic brain injuries because they’re so difficult to visualize with medical scans alone. This challenge exacerbated as time passed, and the pandemic caused delays in the case. By the time the case was close to trial, the Plaintiff had recovered very well from the outside.

Ted involved several experts in the case, including an accident reconstructionist, a life care planner, an orthopedic surgeon, a neurosurgeon, neurologists, and neuropsychologists. He also brought DK Global on board right away. He’d been working with them for 20 years and knew from experience how important demonstratives would prove to his case.

DK Global created a damages animation that helped show that while the Plaintiff looked fine from the outside, she had suffered injuries from the crash that would affect her for the rest of her life. The animation began with a realistic 3D illustration of the Plaintiff and an exhaustive catalog of her injuries from head to toe, beginning with her fractured vertebra, the surgery it required, and the hardware that was screwed into her spine, along with medical scans and a photograph of the client’s back showing the surgical scar. It then showed the rest of her many orthopedic injuries alongside actual medical scans to corroborate the animation. Then, the video showed the Plaintiff’s medical records and diagnoses pertaining to her traumatic brain injuries. Finally, the animation showed her brain and highlighted each area affected by the collision, along with the cognitive symptoms and deficits associated with each brain injury.

Over the course of several mediations with two different mediators, the Defense did not offer what Ted believed would amount to justice for his client. Finally, as they got into further discussions preparing for trial, the Defense offered a high seven-figure settlement. Ted and his client were pleased with the resolution.

Ted Wacker has been an attorney in California for over 30 years, and founded the Law Offices of Ted B. Wacker in 2014. He has an office based in Newport Beach with five other attorneys, in addition to a satellite office in Seattle. Ted has handled catastrophic personal injury cases for the entirety of his career, specializing in cases involving accidents, medical malpractice, elder abuse, as well as mass tort pharmaceutical and medical device cases. He is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) and was selected as a California Super Lawyer for the past ten years from 2013 to the present.


"That's what those animations do. They're such a powerful tool to bring the extent of the injuries to life. It would be malpractice not to do that in any case."
Ted Wacker - Law Offices of Ted B. Wacker
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