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Truck Driver Runs Stop Sign and Causes T-Bone Crash Killing Two Young Men

On a clear, sunny day in rural central California, a large utility truck barreled down a remote stretch of road. Speeding and distracted, the driver failed to notice a two-way stop sign ahead of him. Unfortunately, that inattention led to tragedy. The utility truck crashed at full speed into a pickup truck traveling along the intersecting road, causing catastrophic injuries and fatalities to the family of four inside.

The family was traveling from out of state to a wedding when they came upon the intersection. The mother of the family sat in the front passenger seat with her 23-year-old eldest son driving. Two younger adult siblings sat in the rear seat — the 21-year-old younger brother in the rear driver’s side and his sister in the rear passenger seat. Traveling around 35 miles per hour, there was no stop sign in their direction, and they had the right of way. When the utility truck T-boned the family pickup, the force was so severe that it sent the pickup rolling about 100 yards sideways from the crash scene and ripped the engine away from the vehicle.

The eldest son in the driver’s seat suffered catastrophic injuries to his head. The younger brother was ejected from the vehicle onto the pavement. Both died at the scene. The mother and daughter suffered traumatic brain injuries, but regained consciousness while still in the wreck. Sadly, that meant they were forced to watch their family members succumb to their injuries, leading to long-lasting PTSD. The mother also sustained broken bones because of the crash.

The family knew the damages in the case were extensive and sought legal help. They retained Brian Panish and David Rudorfer, trial attorneys at Panish | Shea | Ravipudi LLP. Brian and David knew they had several obstacles in the case, including the Defense raising issues about speeding, damages, liability, and seatbelt evidence. The Defendant had told police at the scene that he stopped at the stop sign, and the Plaintiff’s vehicle was going fast and came out of nowhere. Ultimately, he said the accident wasn’t his fault. The Defense also focused on the seatbelts, claiming that the younger brother in the back had not been belted in since he was ejected from the truck.

Brian and David knew they needed strong demonstratives of all angles of the accident to show exactly what happened. The attorneys consulted with experts, including biomechanics and accident reconstructionists. The team concluded that the impact was too great for a seatbelt to have made any difference. The youngest son would have died from the impact regardless.

Next, Brian and David enlisted DK Global to create animations that reconstructed how all the pieces of the accident fit together, revealing what exactly happened at the intersection that day. The animations showed the accident step-by-step from a variety of angles. The visuals portrayed the utility truck failing to stop at the stop sign, ultimately hitting the pickup and causing it to land on its side, ejecting the youngest son. The animation also showed the injured mother exiting the vehicle and watching helplessly as her sons died from their injuries.

The case settled after mediation in favor of the family for $39,500,000. David noted that his team and DK Global were ready to enter a jury trial if necessary. DK Global had put together additional visuals to show the emotional anguish the mother and sister had suffered minutes after the accident occurred when they watched in terror as their family members perished before them.

Brian Panish is a partner at Panish | Shea | Ravipudi LLP. As one of the country’s leading trial attorneys, Brian has obtained some of the most significant jury verdicts on behalf of his clients. He has had numerous multi-million- and billion-dollar victories in the courtroom, including a $4.9 billion record verdict against General Motors. His most recent accolades include 2023 Top 100 Lawyers in California and 2023 Leading Commercial Litigators by the Daily Journal, 2023 Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles Hall of Fame Inductee, 2023 Lawdragon 500 Leading Lawyers in America, and many more. Brian currently serves as immediate past president of the prestigious Inner Circle of Advocates, which is comprised of 100 of the nation’s top plaintiffs’ lawyers.

David Rudorfer of Panish | Shea | Ravipudi LLP represents individuals in personal injury and wrongful death cases. He has handled serious injury cases involving traumatic brain injuries, spine injuries, nerve injuries, paralysis injuries, vehicle collisions, workplace incidents, and sex abuse. David is an active member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles, the Consumer Attorneys of California, and the Los Angeles County Bar Association. He received his juris doctorate from Loyola Law School following graduation from UCLA summa cum laude with a double major.

"You can feel confident that it's not just going to be used for settlement purposes. You're going to be able to show it to the jury."
David Rudorfer - Panish | Shea | Ravipudi LLP
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