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Forklift’s Contents Were Unbalanced and Unsecured Leading to Fatality While Unloading

As day broke over a cold hillside in Texas, construction workers gathered to begin their daily routine. They were tasked with constructing a multi-level parking garage. Under the guidance of his supervisors, one of the laborers sought to gather his tools from a wooden box hoisted to higher floors by a forklift. Leaning over the ledge, the worker unloaded the topmost tools from the large crate. However, some of the contents were out of reach. The man climbed over the ledge and into the box to obtain the remaining items. However, the construction team on the ground had failed to secure the box to the forklift correctly. The weight shifted beneath the laborer, and both he and the box plummeted multiple stories to the ground.

The worker hit the ground hard. Adding insult to injury, the wooden box crashed on top of him. He was immediately rushed to the hospital and placed on life support. After a full day of fighting for his life, he succumbed to his wounds, leaving behind his now-widowed wife and five children.

After her husband's death, the wife sought legal representation. The initial attorney faced a multitude of complex liability disputes involving multiple Defendants. Acknowledging the need for assistance, he contacted John Escamilla, the founder of Escamilla Law Firm, PLLC. John is a seasoned Texas trial lawyer with a 29-year tenure specializing in catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases. Upon accepting the case, John immediately understood that his primary challenge would be proving negligence. He filed claims against five entities, two of which included the employer and the forklift driver.

There was no debate between John and the Defense regarding how the accident happened. However, should the case have gone to trial, he wanted to eliminate any ambiguity about what happened. John hired an OSHA workplace safety expert to testify about the actions of the supervisors, forklift operators, and employees that led to the accident. Furthermore, John collected as much visual evidence and depositions as possible. However, by the time photos of the incident were taken, multiple days had passed. Things were moved, missing, or not as they were at the time of the incident.

As expected, the Defense erected barriers, proposing that the worker's own actions caused the accident. Yet, John's strategy was clear: demonstrate the negligent decisions made by those in charge of the construction site. Critical to his mission was to visually articulate the errors in cargo securement and load handling — both of which were pivotal to understanding the case. John had his evidence. However, he needed a way to visually depict the forklift driver and supervisor's breach of protocol. Convincing a potential jury and the other side that the Defendants were liable would be an uphill battle. John reached out to DK Global to produce a reconstruction animation depicting the egregious neglect and improper safety standards highlighted by his experts.

The animation opened with an aerial perspective of the site, moving to a side-by-side comparison that showed the discrepancy between the actual and the correct fork widths on the forklift holding the box. Then, the extended forklift was shown from the driver's point of view, highlighting the limited visibility from the box to the wall. The Plaintiff and a second worker were shown reaching over the ledge to unload the box contents. Tools and a water cooler were shown out of reach, leading to the Plaintiff stepping into the box. This action shifted the box's balance, causing it to tip over. The Plaintiff and the box were shown falling from the lift. The animation concluded from the Plaintiff's viewpoint, depicting when the box crashed into him.

John dropped everything on the Defense during mediation: expert testimony, the DK Global reconstruction animation, and a demand package to settle. Two weeks after mediation, the Defense came forward with an offer that met John and his client's demands, resolving the case for a successful, confidential amount.

John Escamilla, the founder of Escamilla Law Firm, PLLC, , has been a formidable advocate in the legal community for over two decades. A 1995 graduate of The University of Texas School of Law, John has built a reputation for passionately representing individuals, families, and businesses in Texas and New Mexico. Notably, in New Mexico, John successfully argued a pivotal case that led to a landmark decision changing state law to ensure businesses are held accountable for foreseeable hazards. Law and Politics Magazine named John a "Texas Super Lawyer – Rising Stars" in 2007, and he holds a respected Martindale-Hubbell AV Distinguished® Peer Review Rating. John also serves on the National Advisory Board of the Association of Plaintiff Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America and has been a sustained Texas Trial Lawyers Association member.

"I can't overstate how helpful it was to have the animation and how valuable it was to the case."
John Escamilla - Escamilla Law Firm
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