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$3.2M Settlement for Cyclist Left with TBI Due to City Road Negligence

Sunny San Diego may seem to some like paradise, but even this Eden had to put up with the frustration and danger of slow-moving bureaucracy and city management. When the cities delay or ignore their duties to their citizens, it is the people who suffer the consequences. While a pothole might not seem like an urgent matter, San Diego’s failure to address a road imperfection left a cyclist with permanent brain damage after a terrifying brush with death.

The victim, a local teacher and avid cyclist, was biking down a popular La Jolla road at around 30 mph when he hit the corner of a large pothole. The impact flipped him over the handlebars of his bicycle. He landed headfirst on the asphalt, where he rolled and skidded over 65 feet along the street. The cyclist suffered a seizure, multiple facial fractures, as well as brain hemorrhaging and a life-changing traumatic brain injury (TBI).

The TBI caused profound personality and behavioral changes in the cyclist. For instance, in the years that followed his injury, the cyclist was arrested for a felony that was completely out of character prior to the crash. The conviction would prove to be an albatross as his case against the city took shape.

As the years wore on, a carousel of attorneys took on and then dropped the cyclist’s injury case. While other attorneys shied away, Brett Schreiber of Singleton Schreiber grabbed the challenge by the horns. It was obvious to Brett that his client’s legal troubles were not a detriment to his case against the city, but proof of the total devastation the crash had precipitated on his life. Unwilling to let city government steamroll a man that they let down so horribly, Brett got to work preparing for a potential trial.

Brett knew the key to the case lay in the power of the whole picture. The Defense expected that Brett, like the Plaintiff’s previous lawyers, would give up easily on account of his client’s conviction. Instead, Brett brought on DK Global to help him tell the Plaintiff’s story through an animation. He sought out depositions from medical experts like neurologists, neuropsychologists, and orthopedic surgeons. He heard from experts who helped prove liability, including traffic engineers, accident reconstructionists, and road maintenance professionals. Working with DK Global, Brett was able to create a video that showed every chapter of his client’s story, from start to finish.

The video began with an animated depiction of the road and pothole, followed by a row of animated cyclists riding along that same road. The pleasant ride ended when the Plaintiff’s bike hit the pothole, throwing him straight over his handlebars to land on his head and barrel 65 feet down the hill. The accident replayed, this time pausing at the moment the Plaintiff hit the pothole and flipped over the handlebars. A closer view of the Plaintiff at the time of impact showed the coup contrecoup injury, his brain slamming into both sides of his skull. The video went on to highlight the areas of impact on an animated rendering of the Plaintiff and his skull, as well as the hardware placed over his fractures. Next, a cross-section of the Plaintiff’s brain revealed his severe hemorrhaging and axonal injuries before explaining in detail the affected brain areas and corresponding functional deficits.

Brett presented the Defense with his mediation brief, including the video. From there, it was clear that the case wasn't going to conclude in the quiet, easy way the Defense had expected. Before Brett began representing the Plaintiff, the Defense had presented a settlement figure around half a million dollars. That changed three weeks before trial, when the number increased more than six fold as Brett’s efforts secured his client a $3,200,000 settlement.

Brett Schreiber is a personal injury attorney and partner at Singleton Schreiber, a San Diego-based law firm that handles civil rights, mass torts, personal injury/wrongful death, and criminal defense case. Brett is one of the youngest attorneys to receive recognition as one of San Diego’s Top Attorneys. He also made history as the youngest ever President of the Consumer Attorneys of San Diego (CASD), and actively works with the California Innocence Project to support victims of wrongful incarceration.

"We don't have room for average. For the work that we do, and the cases we have, and for the lives of the people who entrust us to tell their story, we need to work with the best. And DK Global is that."
Brett Schreiber — Singleton Schreiber
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