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Tractor-Trailer Driver’s Negligence Results in Fatal Accident at Intersection

The driver of a large tractor-trailer traveled through Atlanta. As he reached an intersection, he impatiently began a left turn, seemingly unconcerned with the cross traffic he was blocking. As the driver barreled into the junction, his truck blocked all the southbound traffic lanes. At the same moment, a minivan approached from the north. With all lanes blocked by the truck, the minivan had no time to stop and nowhere to turn. The minivan underrode the tractor-trailer. The victim of the grisly crash was a man in his 40s who was heading home to celebrate his wife’s birthday. Tragically, he never made it home.

The victim was leaving work to spend time with his wife, whom he had talked with just before the crash. He had the right of way as he approached the intersection. When the semi hurried to make its left turn, the man was caught by surprise. He was killed because of the impact. The man’s wife was devastated, having lost her husband on what was supposed to be a day of celebration and happiness.

The victim’s family contacted James Robson, a personal injury attorney in Atlanta at Glass & Robson, LLC, shortly after the crash. Robson hired a team of experts, including an accident reconstructionist and a human factors expert, to better understand what happened in the moments before the collision. James found that the tractor-trailer had about 700 feet of distance to see the victim driving before he pulled into the intersection, compared with the victim, who had about 400 feet to see the tractor-trailer. Noting people’s normal reaction time when faced with rapidly changing conditions, the human factors expert established that the victim’s behavior during the crash was not unusual. In other words, the victim had been placed in a position where he had no time to stop or slow down before crashing.

In mediation, the Defense tried to absolve the tractor-trailer of responsibility by arguing that the intersection itself was dangerous and therefore set the scene for a crash. They refused to accept liability for the victim’s death. James needed to prove that the truck driver had acted negligently by pulling into that intersection. While he had strong subject matter experts, James felt he was missing something in building his case. The static images of the intersection and the crash only told part of the story. James didn’t want the jury to create their own narrative based on incomplete information. He needed DK Global for a visual demonstrative.

James and his team worked with DK Global on an animation to show how the deliberate choice of the tractor-trailer driver caused his client’s death. The animation showed a bird’s eye view of the Atlanta intersection, then the truck driver’s point of view as the victim’s vehicle approached the intersection and collided with the tractor-trailer. The animation continued with a point of view from inside the minivan at the time of the crash. It was clear from the animation that the truck driver had ample time to see the van but that the victim had no choice but to crash into the trailer because it was blocking all lanes of traffic. The animation also juxtaposed photographs from the crash scene so jurors could connect the renderings with the catastrophic outcome of the truck driver’s decision.

James and his team also worked with a focus group on the animation. They presented the group with facts about the case. Initially, the group responded negatively to James’s arguments. However, when the group saw the animation, they changed their minds. They felt the liability rested entirely on the tractor-trailer driver. James then showed the animation to the Defense during mediation. At that point, they agreed to settle with the victim’s family for the total policy limit of $5,000,000.

James Robson is a trial attorney at Glass & Robson, LLC, a firm he co-founded after spending years working as a personal injury attorney and defending large insurance companies. James has tried numerous personal injury cases to verdict and recovered millions of dollars for his clients. He handles cases involving trucking/tractor trailer wrecks, auto wrecks, motorcycle wrecks, bicycle wrecks, premises liability, slip/trip and falls, negligent security, apartment shootings/assaults, defective/dangerous products, wrongful death, spinal cord injuries, and brain injuries. James uses his experience working with the insurance industry to maximize his clients’ gains. Based on nominations from his peers, he has been honored with an “AV Preeminent” rating by Martindale-Hubbell, the highest possible rating for attorneys for both legal ability and ethical standards.

"If it's a case that you're willing to take to trial, then you really should think long and hard about having an animation."
James A. Robson - Glass & Robson, LLC
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