$5.6M Verdict | Tractor-Trailer Crash | New York This is a distracted driving case involving a tractor-trailer driver’s choice to ignore road
This case involves a rear-end collision where the plaintiff was on her way to work. She was alone in the blue car, stopped in traffic. Behind her, the defendant was slowing down with traffic. However, he could not slow down in time to avoid hitting the plaintiff ahead of him. The plaintiffs car was rear impacted and accelerated into the vehicle in front causing a subsequent frontal crash. The plaintiff hit her head on the steering wheel. It caused the contents of her vehicle to be shaken around and she observed smoke coming from her vehicle following the crash.
Total Trial Solutions was asked to create an animation of how the incident took place, to show how the defendant was driving at an unsafe distance, and to illustrate the spinal injuries sustained to the plaintiff. Our objectives were:
• Recreate the accident scene with all vehicles involved.
• Establish how the defendant was driving at an unsafe distance.
• Examine the biomechanics of the lumbar spinal injury.
We began the animation with an overhead visual of the highway traffic. This allowed us to clearly see the distances and speeds of the cars involved. An important point was to show how the defendant was following too close behind the black car ahead. When that black car changed to the middle lane, the defendant did not have enough time to brake and avoid the collision with the plaintiff. It was also important to see the subsequent frontal crash due to the rear-end collision.
It was important to demonstrate how little time the defendant had to react when the car ahead changed lanes. This helped the attorney reinforce the point that the defendant was driving too close at an unsafe distance.
Next we showed the mechanism of injury. It was necessary to see the rear-end collision’s impact on the plaintiff’s spine. To achieve this, we worked with Dr. Paul Ivancic, a human injury biomechanics and causation expert, to accurately recreate the whiplash injury that the plaintiff suffered. By overlaying a skull and spine on top of the plaintiff body, we clearly saw how the spine moved and bent due to the collision. Another focus point was to see the plaintiff hit her head on the steering wheel from the subsequent frontal crash.
We finished the animation by labeling the spinal loads and motions. During a rear crash, the lumbar spine sustains varied loading patterns. Immediately following impact, lumbar flexion-compression is due to extension of the pelvis and loads from the seat back. Subsequently, lumbar spine loads include extension and tension. During the rebound phase, the lumbar spine sustains flexion-compression and shear due to forward torso momentum and loads due to the lap belt.