DBJ won a $25 million Jackson County, Missouri jury verdict for a 7-year-old girl who suffered a skull fracture and brain injury when her family’s minivan was rear-ended by a truck.
Anna Berthelsen and her family were stopped in traffic in a construction zone in the Grandview Triangle, a Kansas City highway interchange notorious for accidents, undergoing a long-term construction project. A URS Corporation truck slammed into the rear of the vehicle, where Anna was sitting. The truck was traveling 65 mph in a 45 mph zone.
The defense argued that the truck’s driver did not have time to react when the Berthelsens’ minivan stopped suddenly. But plaintiffs’ attorneys prepared an exhibit featuring an aerial photo overlaid with 15 signs warning motorists of the upcoming construction. “When I put this exhibit up in opening statement,” said attorney Scott S. Bethune of DBJ, “several of the jurors reacted physically and some even verbally sighed.”
This case, involving devastating injuries to a 7-year-old girl, was particularly difficult emotionally for the family’s attorneys. “We have young kids and we see some of the things this family is going through and it’s easy to see this happening to us,” Bethune said.
DBJ’s Grant L. Davis agreed. “Anna had no control over this,” Davis said. “She was sitting in the back of the minivan holding one of her stuffed animals and the corporation smashed into her and she has to live the rest of her life like that.”
Davis also noted that injuries to children can be deceptive. “Children won’t appear as injured as they are sometimes,” he said. “As they grow older their injuries become more apparent.”
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