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Truck with Blocked Out Tail Lights on Unlit Road Obstructs Traffic, Causes Dangerous Crash

Late one Oklahoma night, a dump truck inched down an unlit two-lane highway. Despite the 65mph speed limit, the driver was nursing a flat tire, traveling a mere 20mph. Rather than find a road to turn off, he chose to continue along to the next town. Worse, on top of obstructing traffic, the truck was essentially invisible in the darkness. The freighter was hauling drilling mud from an oil rig and failed to keep all of its load inside the trailer. Sticky muck coated the truck’s rear, entirely blocking its brake lights from view. Moreover, the truck was missing reflectors, a requirement in Oklahoma. As a result, a young man returning home from work was gravely injured when he slammed into the back of the truck at highway speeds.

Adding insult to injury, after the crash, the driver exited his truck and wiped away the mud from his rear lights to conceal his negligence.

The driver, a father of two, worked a blue-collar job that often required him to be on the road late at night. With nothing visible to inform the commuter of its presence, the truck seemed to appear suddenly, out of nowhere. The crash was much more than just a fender bender; the man sustained life-threatening injuries that prevented him from returning to work to support his family.

Shortly after the accident, the driver met with attorney Luke Abel, of Abel Law Firm. After taking on the case, Luke enlisted the help of legal partner Kelly Bishop to unravel the complicated web of facts and liability involved with the accident. They knew proving that their Plaintiff couldn’t see the trailer was going to be tricky. The duo got to work immediately on their case strategy.

Up against a fierce team of Defense lawyers, Luke and Kelly hired six experts for the case, including liability experts, accident reconstructionists, and physicians. Then, they approached DK Global to create a trial animation that would demonstrate the truck driver’s negligence and show prospective jurors what the Plaintiff experienced that night.

The video began with a bird’s eye view of the roadway. Yellow lines noted three turnoffs where the truck driver could have exited the highway. A blue dot then appeared on the screen, indicating the incident site. The video proceeded to an animation of the truck on the stygian roadway, headlights hardly illuminating the road ahead. The animation then showed the back of the truck, where mud obscured the truck’s taillights and trailer lights. It also noted that the trailer had no reflective tape to help with visibility. The video zoomed in on the flat tire on the back left side of the trailer. The last section of the video showed the completely dark road from the Plaintiff’s perspective and then demonstrated how the previous missing illumination methods were necessary to see the trailer. The animation concluded by showing a juxtaposition of the actual conditions during the accident, alongside a depiction of what the Plaintiff’s point of view would have been under proper conditions.

The Defense went into mediation unwilling to settle. Nevertheless, Luke and Kelly continued to negotiate. Just before the trial was set to begin, they agreed to a very favorable settlement for the Plaintiff that would take care of his and his family’s needs.

Luke Abel is an Oklahoma City-based personal injury attorney with Abel Law Firm. He joined the firm his father founded in 2006 and has become a formidable force in the tort sphere. He was named the 2023 “Lawyer of the Year” for Plaintiff’s product liability litigation by the national Super Lawyers advisory board, and has secured countless six-, seven-, and even eight-figure settlements for his clients. Outside of his practice, Luke dedicates his time to his wife and three children, as well as an active, well-rounded lifestyle.

Kelly Bishop joined the Abel Law Firm in 1993 and has been an integral part of the group ever since. A mainstay on the Oklahoma Super Lawyers list since 2013, Kelly is dedicated to helping people receive the just compensation they deserve. He routinely gives lectures for the Oklahoma Bar Association, the Oklahoma Association of Justice, and the University of Oklahoma College of Law. A dynamo in and on the court, Kelly is also a passionate and seasoned tennis player.

"Anybody can have a bucket full of facts, and dump it on the table and here it is, It's different when you tell a story through visuals."
Kelly Bishop - Abel Law Firm
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