New York Team Secures Defense Verdict on Liability in Alleged Rear-End Case Involving Alleged TBI, Bilateral Knee Surgery, and Lumbar Injections

New York, N.Y. (March 22, 2023) – New York Partner Christian McGannon and New York/Hartford Partner Kevin Zimmerman recently obtained a defense verdict in Rockland County, New York in a case involving an alleged traumatic brain injury (TBI), as well as bilateral knee surgery and lumbar injections.

Underlying Facts

The plaintiff alleged that he was stopped at a red light for between five and 10 seconds when the tractor trailer rear-ended him. He claimed that as a result of the accident, he underwent bilateral knee surgery, received injections to his lumbar spine, sustained a serious TBI, and was unable to return to work. Throughout the litigation, the plaintiff’s demand remained in the mid-seven-figure range.

In preparation for trial, Messrs. McGannon and Zimmerman retained experts to testify. Liability was going to be contested based on photographs, which showed damage to the left rear corner of the plaintiff’s vehicle. Mr. McGannon argued to the jury that this proved the plaintiff cut into the lane in front of the tractor trailer, causing the accident.

The purported testimony of the defense’s biomechanical expert helped establish that the injuries alleged could not have been caused by the subject impact. Specifically, the testimony supported the defense’s argument that the plaintiff’s head did not make contact with anything inside the vehicle and that the plaintiff’s knees could not have made contact with the dashboard as he alleged.

Moreover, the purported testimony of the defense’s neuropsychologist and neuroradiologist helped disprove the plaintiff’s alleged TBI claims. In reaching their conclusions, both doctors relied heavily on the plaintiff’s initial emergency room records and films to establish that he did not sustain a TBI and did not attempt to receive any treatment for his head or brain until much later in the litigation.

In addition, just days before the trial commenced, the defense’s investigator captured the plaintiff on video conducting maintenance work for a local bakery. Following Lewis Brisbois’ disclosure of the surveillance, the plaintiff eventually reduced his demand, but remained adamant that damages were in the seven-figure range.

The Trial

During the liability phase of trial, the driver of the tractor trailer testified that the plaintiff’s vehicle suddenly moved in front of him just before the impact, which did not give him enough time to stop. In further establishing its position, the defense relied heavily on photographs of the vehicles. The photographs showed that the plaintiff’s vehicle must have been on an angle at the time of the impact because the tow hook on the tractor trailer was lodged in the left side of the plaintiff’s rear bumper, as opposed to the center. The defense argued, therefore, that the plaintiff could not have been stopped for between five and 10 seconds, and instead, must have moved in front of the tractor trailer at the last moment. During the cross-examination of the plaintiff, the defense further highlighted inconsistencies between the plaintiff’s deposition testimony and his direct trial testimony concerning when he first saw the tractor trailer and where his vehicle was stopped.

Throughout the trial, the plaintiff’s settlement demand remained in the seven figures. Following the close of the liability phase, the jury began deliberations and almost immediately asked to see all the photographs in evidence. After less than 30 minutes, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendants on liability. As such, the trial did not proceed to a damages phase.


This case demonstrates that alleged rear-end accidents involving tractor trailers are defensible with strong physical evidence supporting the defendant driver’s version of the accident. Specifically, physical evidence may carry the day when it casts doubt upon the plaintiff’s version of an accident, and when the alleged injuries and medical treatment defy common sense and logic.

In this case, the trial did not proceed to the damages phase. Nevertheless, the defense was prepared to introduce strong expert testimony to support our contention that none of the plaintiff’s alleged injuries, including the TBI claim, were real or caused by the accident. If the jury had assigned liability to the defendants, then their expert testimony would have been crucial in attempting to eliminate or greatly reduce the alleged damages/injuries.

For more information on our defense in this case, contact Messrs. McGannon and Zimmerman directly. Visit our National Trial Practice page to learn more about Lewis Brisbois' capabilities in the courtroom and our deep bench of highly skilled trial attorneys, 50 of whom are members of the prestigious American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA).

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