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Street Animations Simplify Complex Injury Case to Help Plaintiff Attain Over $12.6M

Sometimes, a series of events and decisions made by many different people and organizations can culminate in catastrophic events, like a high-speed traffic collision. In such cases, who bears liability?

As the sun faded into the distance one evening in February, a street racer sped down a Cathedral City, California, boulevard at over 100 miles per hour. At such speeds, there wasn’t enough time to react when a young woman made a U-turn from a left-turn pocket in front of the racer. Notably, the median where the woman turned was not supposed to allow U-turns; however, the city and the street developers it hired failed to install appropriate signage. Consequently, the two cars smashed into each other. The woman, a project manager at an architecture firm, was returning home from a client’s building site. She suffered a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) and other damage that put her in hospital after hospital for months.

First responders transported the woman to a local emergency room. After which, she transferred to a UCLA-affiliated hospital. During her recovery, the woman went into respiratory failure, prompting yet another move to a respiratory clinic. In addition, she endured several complications from her TBI and ultimately ended up in a brain injury rehabilitation center to recover further. There, she met with her attorney, Emily Ruby of Greenberg and Ruby Injury Attorneys, APC.

An expert in lawsuits involving complex liability issues, Emily identified that the median from which the woman turned wasn’t constructed properly and didn’t feature the correct traffic signs. Consequently, responsibility for the collision extended beyond the street racer and included the contractors who built the street as well as Cathedral City itself. Emily knew that there would be many challenges proving liability, but she wasn’t deterred. She sought information regarding the accident through public record requests and diligent investigation: collision reports, witness testimonies, city plans, and anything that could help piece together whose negligence contributed to the accident. Emily discovered that city plans for the site would have prevented the collision from happening, but the city had yet to implement them. Furthermore, the city had also failed to set up any temporary measures in the meantime to protect drivers.

Emily approached DK Global early after she realized how difficult it was to adequately describe the area and circumstances. She needed a visual. Her goals for the animation were twofold: to set the scene of the area the night of the accident and the intended designs for the median left-hand turn pocket, and to show how easy it would have been to implement any number of temporary measures to prevent accidents of this nature.

The animation began with a map of where the incident took place. It showed how the site where the woman was working featured two driveways. Then, the video explained that while one of the driveways was safe to enter and exit from, the city knew that the second driveway could create dangerous traffic obstructions if drivers crossed traffic to enter the left-hand turn pocket. The city knew this and described in its Conditions for Approval the need to modify the median and install a Right Turn Only sign. Additionally, the animation detailed how the Defendants blocked access to the safer driveway, leaving no option but to use the potentially dangerous access point. No temporary signage was installed to warn drivers of the potentially perilous conditions. The city knew the builders were out of compliance and did nothing. Next, the animation transitioned to a point-of-view angle of a driver pulling out of the dangerous driveway. It pointed out how the lack of traffic signage created a deceptive appearance of safety. After that, the presentation reconstructed the collision. The woman pulled out of the driveway in the evening after finishing work, crossing three lanes of traffic into the left-hand turn pocket. As she entered the median and began to make a U-turn, the street racer slammed into the driver’s side of her car. Adding to the Defendants’ culpability, the builders finally placed a temporary Right Turn Only sign next to the dangerous driveway shortly after the Plaintiff was injured, as well as emailed the staff that all personnel was required to leave the site with a right turn only. Last, the animation depicted solutions the Defendants could have implemented. Any alternatives would have prevented the Plaintiff’s catastrophic crash from not blocking the safer driveway, reconstructing the median left-hand-turn pocket, or simply placing cones along the median.

Emily attended a first mediation, where she showed the animation to the Defense. Consequently, the Defendants changed their theory of liability. By the second mediation, the Defense was ready to meet Emily’s demands. They settled the case for over $12.6 million, saving at least a year of litigation. The settlement secured the money needed to care for the Plaintiff for the rest of her life.

Emily Ruby is the owner of the Los Angeles-based firm Greenberg and Ruby Injury Attorneys, APC, and the winner of the 2022 “Women in Law” Award. Her work mainly centers around victims of third-party work injury cases, in which a person is injured at work but a third party is at fault. Emily’s legal efforts have won clients more than $78.6 million in compensation with an overall success rate of 97.4%. She was selected as a Super Lawyers Southern California Rising Star both in 2021 and 2022, as well as The National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40. She is a member of Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC), the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles (CAALA), Consumer Attorneys of San Diego, the California Applicants’ Attorneys Association, and the American Association for Justice (AAJ).

"Having this animation, which resulted in the settlement, saved probably a year of litigation. It showed the defense that I was serious about the case."
Emily Ruby - Greenberg and Ruby Injury Attorneys, APC
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