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Motorcyclist's Extensive Injuries from Tree Branch Collapse

Medical AnimationAccident Reconstruction

Jane Neeley was riding her motorcycle on State Route 79 when a large tree branch broke, falling on top of her. Luckily, nearby responders came to help and called 911. She survived but suffered serious orthopedic injuries that would leave her paraplegic for life.

After a legal team was retained, they discovered that the branch that fell was the responsibility of Caltrans. They found records that showed Caltrans maintenance crews had failed to properly inspect and trim the trees lining this road. Because of this, they didn’t notice that the tree involved in this accident as well as many nearby were infected with a degenerative disease, making them liable to fall at any minute.

Ms. Neeley’s injuries were numerous and permanent, and directly caused by the branch-falling incident. In order to obtain due justice for her, her attorneys needed a jury to understand her experience through this incident as well as the extent of her pain and suffering. In order to communicate this, 3D Forensic was brought on to visualize how the accident occurred as well as the lengthy medical processes that followed.


  • Create a demonstrative exhibit connecting the fall of a tree branch to a list of serious injuries including paraplegia


  • Animate the tree branch fall and collision
  • Create 3D visuals exemplifying medical records of injuries

The team started work on this case by deducing how to visualize the incident. The team reviewed statements from witnesses, consulted with the case's reconstructionist, and reviewed medical records to understand what happened. The team modelled the environment, Ms. Neeley, and her bike, then animated the scene according to this research.

Opposing counsel argued that Ms. Neeley could have swerved away from the branch to avoid this catastrophe, but the real-time animation showed she could not have possibly perceived and reacted to this danger in time to avoid injury.

Then, the team worked on the visual demonstration of her resulting injuries and surgeries. Ms. Neeley was unfortunately left paraplegic because of this incident. Specific orthopedic injuries included a completely fractured left femur, eight fractured vertebrae, and a burst lumbar vertebra.

Doctors had to perform multiple surgeries for these conditions, including placing three screws into the femur. They also mounted a spinal fusion to her back from her 5th cervical vertebra to her 8th thoracic vertebra, further resulting in further permanent discomfort from this incident.


This animation compacted seemingly endless, complicated medical files and reports into a simple visualization a non-medical audience could understand. By bridging the gap between medical experts on the stand and the jury members, the jury were able to understand Ms. Neeley's injuries and awarded her with a $16.4 million verdict in a decisive victory over Caltrans.

Civil Case Result: $16.4 Million Trial Verdict

Link: Singleton Schreiber Case Study

**NOTE: Each case is affected by unique factors and requires an independent forensic approach. These case studies serve as general applications and are not universally applicable.

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"We have used Jason Fries and his team twice to create medical videos depicting complex surgeries. The videos impressed both the jury and the defense attorneys. Perhaps most helpful, Jason will work on short notice and provide a persuasive product."

Robert Igleheart
Robert Igleheart

Rouda, Feder, Tietjen & McGuinn