This is a story of a case that seemed impossible and unwinnable. It is the story of a client who desperately needed clear representation and someone to delve deeper into his injuries, someone to understand that something was seriously wrong despite what initial testing was saying and despite outward appearances. Something was wrong, and this something was the result of a horrific accident that could have ended much worse than it did.
This is a story of results, of digging deeper, of seeking out medical expertise, and of the attorneys at Crosley Law Firm doing everything in their power to make sure justice was delivered to their client. Personal injury law is about discovering truths and helping those whose lives have been forever changed by the negligent conduct of others.
This is a story of doing what was right.
On May 17, 2010, 46-year-old Master Plumber Jerry Mulder was driving down the 1604. The last thing Mr. Mulder expected to see cresting a hill was a big rig, driving the wrong way, heading directly for his Dodge pickup.
The collision was so violent that it ripped the left front wheel off of his truck. This wheel was later found 900 feet away from where the crash happened. A simulation of the accident can be seen below.
Young couple Heidi and Jeremy witnessed the truck-tractor on the wrong side of the road, witnessed the cloud of dust as it swerved, accelerated, and crashed right into Jerry’s pickup truck. They pulled over and ran to Mr. Mulder’s aid to see if anyone was still alive or if there was anything they could do to help. Heidi saw a man slumped over the steering wheel, unconscious. Tugging at the door and realizing it was locked, she banged on the window, initially thinking, “He’s dead. He’s dead.”
Eventually, Mulder came to, and Heidi was able to pull him out of the truck. He was dazed, disoriented, and didn’t know what was going on, but what was obvious to everyone was that he had suffered some serious injuries to his body: a ruptured disc in his neck, injury to both shoulders, torn cartilage in both wrists from holding on to the steering wheel at the time of the accident, and severe back and neck pain. What was documented and later very apparent was that he suffered some serious injuries to his brain as well.
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) sound scary, and they are, but what most people don’t realize is that TBIs have varying ranges of symptoms that aren’t evident right away. The “traumatic” part of TBIs refers to a sudden trauma (force) that causes damage to the brain, such as a sudden jolt or smack on the head that can happen in a car accident. It is entirely possible to have a mild TBI, which can still have long-lasting, devastating effects.
Mr. Jerry Mulder’s brain injury was classified as such. Initial test results from the ER came back normal. There was no brain injury detected, but it was obvious that Jerry wasn’t the same. Over several months following the crash, his wife and family noticed changes — serious changes. Jerry, a normally happy, jovial man, became depressed and moody. His memory wasn’t the same, and attention to any task for any length of time proved difficult. He was also losing his ability to focus. As a master plumber, someone who must manage others, pay attention to details, remember orders, bid on jobs, and take care of many small tasks throughout the day, work was proving almost impossible. Increasingly frustrated, Jerry didn’t know where to turn or what to do. But he knew something was wrong.
Things weren’t the same at home either. His loving, twenty-year relationship with his wife, Karla was deeply affected. Karla remained there for him, for better or for worse. But now, instead of an equal partnership, Karla had to assume the role of a caretaker by helping Jerry get through each day, by remembering appointments, and by providing a stabilizing element in his life since the accident occurred.
His physical injuries were clearly evident and hard to dispute. The insurance companies and defense attorneys recognized and acknowledged the evidence from MRIs, CT scans, and the doctors who had to perform surgery on Mr. Mulder’s shoulder. Documented, there-in black and white, were all the injuries that were a direct result of the accident.
His brain injury and its symptoms were just as clearly evident to Jerry, his family, and his loved ones. Things had not been the same since the accident. When those test results came back as “normal,” however, the defense said, “Well, if the MRI doesn’t show it — it’s not there.” They disputed the injury, claiming there was no TBI whatsoever. End of story.
But for Jerry, who would likely end up unemployed for long periods of time because of this injury, and for Karla, whose 20-year marriage was so quickly and dramatically changed, and for Kristen and Aaron, whose father wasn’t the same man he was before the collision, the story was far from over. How were they going to manage financially in the long term when the insurance companies were only offering compensation for medical bills in the past and not for the future difficulties Jerry’s family was sure to face?
This is where Crosley stepped in. Over several months of painstaking research, Tom Crosley read over 70 scientific articles, papers, and abstracts concerning “mild” brain injuries and how to document what was obvious to Jerry, his family, and his friends but not to the courts. This painstaking research led to discussions with dozens of the country’s leading brain doctors. The search eventually led to several scientists from the University of California in San Diego. These individuals had received grants from the government to study blast injury victims returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and civilians as well.
A Magnetoencephalography (MEG) machine was used on Jerry Mulder. This machine measures the very faint magnetic fields that emanate from the head as a result of brain activity. The scanner detects instantaneous changes in brain activity, allowing doctors to map the brain and track activity down to milliseconds. The MEG can provide a picture of the brain and can “see through” the skull and scalp, unlike EEGs and other brain scanning devices. MEGs are expensive, with only a few in existence worldwide. Tom Crosley made sure Jerry got the tests that he needed in order to provide the most accurate diagnosis possible of the timing of nerve cell activity in his brain, information that a standard MRI cannot provide.
The results? A normal adult without any brain injuries would have zero slow waves, maybe one within an half hour period. Abnormal results for that individual would be maybe two or three. For Jerry, 39 bursts of slow waves were documented over a 30 minute period. This was clear-cut evidence of trauma to the brain. This was one of the first cases in the country that used this cutting-edge technology as evidence.
In addition to the top scientists working with the MEG, Crosley put together a comprehensive case that included over 40 witnesses and other experts in their respective medical and scientific fields. The team at Crosley Law Firm also tracked down eyewitnesses from a nearby bar who testified that the driver of the truck that hit Jerry Mulder had been drinking in the hours before the crash. Further evidence was uncovered that showed falsification of driver logs and violations of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. In short, Crosley Law Firm worked hard for their client, going the extra mile that was clearly needed to resolve this case.
And what was the result of all this hard work from the Crosley Law Firm? A victory for Jerry. More important than the financial reward, though, was the peace of mind this money provided the Mulder family, knowing that their future together wouldn’t be as grim as they imagined. Despite the lifelong difficulties Jerry Mulder will face as the result of this trucking accident, at least he and his family will have the financial means to face whatever is to come.