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Driver Slams into 14-Year-Old Pedestrian in High School Parking Lot

A sense of invulnerability often reigns in the eyes of teenage drivers, overshadowing the grave responsibilities of operating motor vehicles. On a day like any other at North Paulding High School in Paulding County, GA, this youthful naivete took a dire turn. A 16-year-old, speeding at 25 mph in a 15 mph zone, was unaware of their surroundings. Amidst this lapse of attention, 14-year-old Kendall Thomas was crossing the road. The preoccupied driver slammed head-on into the young girl. Even at 25 mph, the force of the car sent Kendall tumbling onto the asphalt, changing her life forever.

When Kendall hit the ground, she sustained devastating injuries to her body and brain. As her medical treatments progressed, Kendall’s parents were overwhelmed by increasing expenses. After numerous surgeries and a lengthy recovery period, it became clear that Kendall would need constant care for life.

Facing the financial strain of mounting medical bills, Kendall’s parents sought legal help. Their family’s attorney referred the case to Jeb Butler and Matt Kahn of Butler | Kahn. With expertise in catastrophic injury cases and a reputation for navigating through complex liability claims, Matt and Jeb were ideally suited to help the Thomas family.

Jeb and Matt faced significant challenges as they advocated for Kendall and her family. They proposed a reasonable settlement to the Defendant’s insurance carrier, aligning with their policy limits. However, the Defense denied liability and rejected the offer. They stubbornly argued that their client couldn’t have stopped in time because Kendall was jogging — a stance they maintained through the duration of the lawsuit.

Undeterred, Jeb and Matt began trial preparations. The duo engaged reconstruction and human factors experts who analyzed the incident. They both clarified what happened, as well as what should have happened between Kendall and the driver. Jeb and Matt deposed numerous eyewitnesses as well, each of their testimonies bolstering their arguments. Nevertheless, despite the growing evidence against them, the Defense continued to deny liability. With trial approaching, Jeb and Matt needed a compelling way to tie together their evidence, expert analyses, and witness testimonies — something that could demonstrate the crash’s severity and the certainty that it was caused by the driver’s inattention. Thus, they turned to DK Global. Together, they created an animated reconstruction of the accident from the Defendant driver’s point of view, providing a detailed account of the events as they unfolded, along with how they should have ideally occurred.

The animation began with an overview of the school’s map, pinpointing the accident site. Then, it shifted to the driver’s perspective as the vehicle turned right onto the long driveway leading to the school parking lot. The vehicle sped past the 15 mph limit, colliding with a 3D model of Kendall. Next, the view changed to an aerial angle, tracking Kendall and illustrating the severe impact from a bird’s eye view. Throughout the animation, expert report annotations offered insights into the incident’s details. It concluded with two what-if scenarios, depicting how the accident could have been avoided if the driver had adhered to the speed limit.

The Defense was unyielding, refusing to budge from their initial $250,000 offer. Jeb and Matt fought hard for Kendall. Armed with expert and witness testimonies and reinforced by the vivid DK Global animation, they presented their arguments before the Defense. After a long mediation, they returned with an offer to settle the case for $30,000,000 — forever providing the Thomas family with the care Kendall would need.

Jeb Butler, founder of Butler | Kahn, specializes in personal injury and wrongful death cases. He has received numerous accolades, including being named Young Litigator of the Year by the Georgia YLD, appearing in the Daily Report's On the Rise / 40 Under 40, and being listed among Georgia Trend's Legal Elite. Jeb has also been designated a Super Lawyers Rising Star and ranks among the top 100 Trial Lawyers by The National Trial Lawyers. His expertise and commitment have secured over $200 million in settlements and verdicts for his clients.

Matt Kahn has made significant strides since entering the personal injury law field in 2015. In 2019, he joined Butler | Kahn as an associate. Three years later in 2022, he became a named partner. His outstanding legal abilities have earned him a spot among Super Lawyers' Rising Stars consecutively from 2020 to 2024. He is a valued member of the American Association for Justice and the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association. Matt previously contributed as a board member to the Parkinson's Foundation—Georgia. His impressive case outcomes have recently exceeded $120 million.

The Defense was unyielding, refusing to budge from their initial $250,000 offer. Jeb and Matt fought hard for Kendall. Armed with expert and witness testimonies and reinforced by the vivid DK Global animation, they presented their arguments before the Defense. After a long  mediation, they returned with an offer to settle the case for $30,000,000 — forever providing the Thomas family with the care Kendall would need.


"We knew from the beginning we wanted to do an animation because it is such a powerful tool to persuade a jury."
Matt Kahn - Butler | Kahn
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