$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 is a distracted driving case involving a tractor-trailer driver’s choice to ignore road signage and surrounding traffic as he approached a construction zone. Ultimately, resulting in a multi-vehicle collision and serious injury to another motorist. The tractor-trailer driver worked for a national shipping company. The driver claimed that on the morning of the crash, he unloaded his trailer in Connecticut and was driving along I-84, through New York, on his way to Pennsylvania, to pick up another delivery. The defendant driver stated that, in the moments prior to the collision, he observed a white vehicle passing him on his left in his peripheral vision.
Attorney Feldman requested assistance from Total Trial Solutions, including help Focus Grouping his theory of the case and potentially negative information known about the client, a Client Biography to better understand his client and the extent of damages, Medical Illustrations of the plaintiff’s injuries to her spine, chest, leg, and femur to show at trial. Additionally, Mr. Feldman requested illustrations of the plaintiff’s post-operative condition, which includes hardware instrumentation at multiple places. Finally, Mr. Feldman received trial assistance in the form of Subpoena tracking, Jury Scouting, and In-court Technical Support. Mr. Feldman believed in and invested in his client, and we did too.
Total Trial Solutions worked with our partner attorney for over two years on the case. Here is a quick summary of the work we performed on behalf of the litigation.
There was a Focus Group conducted on the case to identify a potential jury’s negative attribution to the client and the case, figure out any “just can’t get over facts,” identify and test potentially powerful case themes, examine liability since the defendant driver claimed the plaintiff caused her own injuries, and to test damage claims to ensure there was no overreach in making damages demands. The Focus Group lasted over two-and-a-half hours and resulted in a 31-page analysis and report by our Senior Focus Group Moderator John D. Kiselak.
The trial attorney was now armed with a clear understanding of what was important to a jury and what was not, what helps and hurts his position, and insight into the types of people he would want to select for his jury.
A professional Client Biography was completed on this case. The purpose of the Biography was to better understand who the plaintiff was prior to the crash, and how the crash impacted the client’s life. Our professional journalist, Sarah Lunham, traveled to the client’s home in North Carolina and interviewed the client & her husband, and conducted additional interviews in Massachusetts as well. The Biography uncovered a lot about the client, including details on her background, her education and employment, her personality and lifestyle, medical history, and the physical and emotional effects of the traumatic injury . It also helped uncover the plaintiff’s positive attitude and fighting spirit that assisted with developing a theme in the prosecution. Ultimately, a portion of the bio was used “verbatim” during the opening, when it was time to introduce the client near the end of the monologue.
Next, we knew that due to the extent of the injuries and the need to bring in three expert witnesses, that potential for confusing the jury or losing their focus was a real concern. Therefore, we consulted with the trial attorney, reviewed the hospital records, and operative reports, and came up with a strategy for how we were going to visualize the damages. We decided to create Medical Illustrations showing the extent of the damages.
The plaintiff suffered lumbar spine/disc injuries, chest injuries, right intramedullary nail placement, posterior lumbar fusion, displaced communicated right femoral fracture, L4 compression fracture, 3D posterior rib cage reconstruction, post-op x-rays of upper and lower femur, and post-op lumbar instrumentation.
We knew that talking at the jury would be pointless, so we created demonstrative aids to assist the expert witnesses in explaining what the extent of the damages were.
Our visual strategy team helped prepare and enlarge necessary exhibits for presentation in the courtroom. There were X-Ray and MRI films that were converted to printable formats and enlarged, photographs that were enlarged, and charts that were scaled and put on boards. The team ensured the aids were produced professionally, printed appropriately, and delivered to the courtroom well in advance of the trial lawyer arriving.
The client spent over 28 days hospitalized and almost two years in treatment. This meant there was a large volume of medical records to organize, understand, and prepare for court. Total Trial conducted reviews and mapping of over 3,000 pages of medical records, extracting relevant information, and organizing the records prior to trial for the prosecuting attorney to have at his fingertips.
When it was time to get the certified records to the court prior to the trial, our team delivered subpoenas, scanned records, bates stamped everything, and ensured the records arrived on-time and were complete prior to the trial.
This support allowed for the expeditious preparation of the plaintiff’s expert witnesses, and gave easy access to the records the defense counsel was handpicking, allowing for immediate challenges to the erroneous information defense was providing in real time. It also allowed the trial lawyer to quickly find records the defense witnesses were relying on and cross-examine to clarify misleading statements being made.
We sent one of our attorneys to help scout the jury during selection. The purpose of the jury scout is to observe what the trial attorney cannot since they are conducting the voire dire. Ultimately, jury selection took two-and-a-half days in this case, but it was important to get the right panel. We relied heavily on the information developed in the Focus Group and created a juror profile, including both who we wanted, and more importantly – who we did not want. In the end, we were able to give information to help the trial lawyer talk off the wrong jurors and insulate the right ones to arrive at six designated primaries and two alternates.
Our team was called in last minute to help play video evidence. Originally, the video was not going to be introduced by the prosecution; however, a last minute change in trial strategy led to the decision to play the video. We were able to set-up and play the video on just a few hours notice.
Once the defense disclosed experts that were being called in this case, Total Trial immediately began doing research and pulling prior testimony on the experts being called. This allowed the prosecuting attorney to better prepare for cross examination and predict what would be said at the trial.
Article 50 is the New York law that allows for future pain and suffering to be paid in a lump sum at present value. The complex statutory calculation has perplexed many attorneys. Total Trial has an attorney on staff with a MBA and a LLM in Taxation, who is used to calculating numbers based on complex statutory oversight. We were able to give the present value of the verdict, accounting for actual liens, and statutory daily interest quickly. That allowed the trial lawyer to have an accurate, reliable figure when negotiating the final lump sum payment from the defendant and their insurance.
At the end of the case, there were over $170,000 in medical liens that needed to be resolved. Some were statutory liens, others were not. The lien resolution team was able to successfully, track and resolve all liens in a timely manner to allow for the quick and accurate distribution of funds once they were received.