1.7 Million Jury Verdict Awarded to Driver for Injury Suffered After Rear-End by 18-Wheeler Truck – Kolodzik v. Castillo

An Illinois jury awarded $1.7 million to the surviving family members of a man who was hit by a semi-tractor trailer; Estate of Edward Kolodzik v. Cesar Castillo, VBD Transport, Inc., MLP Transport, Inc., No. 04 L 3715. While the decedent, Edward Kolodzik, survived the crash, he died five years later, allegedly from complications arising from the Illinois trucking accident.

The Illinois trucking accident occurred on Illinois Interstate 39/90 near Rockford, Illinois. Kolodzik was driving his car when he was struck by a Mack semi-tractor trailer driven by Cesar Castillo. Kolodzik suffered from a traumatic brain injury and right shoulder and lower back musculoskeletal injuries. As a result of these injuries, the 49 year-old Kolodzik became disabled and dependent on pain medication to relieve his severe shoulder and lower back pain.

A personal injury lawsuit was brought against the truck driver and his employers for their liability in Kolodzik’s injuries and resulting medical condition. When Kolodzik died five years after the truck accident, his wife and five minor children further alleged that his death was a result of his poor health and medical condition following the highway accident.

And while the defendants admitted liability for the truck accident, they disputed the nature and the extent of Kolodzik’s injuries, including the claim that those injuries caused his death five years later. The defendants contended that Kolodzik only suffered from soft tissue injuries, such as whiplash injuries and bruises, and not from the musculoskeletal injuries he claimed. Furthermore, the defendants argued that Kolodzik failed to follow the medical orders and recommendations of his medical providers and therefore was responsible for his further aggravating those injuries.

In order to dispute the claim that Kolodzik’s death was related to the earlier trucking accident, the defendants brought in a toxicology expert to review the results of Kolodzik’s autopsy. However, while this expert was retained by the defendants, he did not testify at the Illinois trial. While the reason for his exclusion is unclear, it would seem in retrospect that his testimony was unnecessary. During its review, the jury was asked to answer a special interrogatory as to whether the accident proximately caused Edward Kolodzik’s death. The jury determined that it did not and consequently did not award any additional monies for this claim.

Instead, the jury returned a $1.7 million verdict against all the defendants, which was composed of $1.5 million for Kolodzik’s loss of a normal life following the trucking accident and $200,000 for his pain and suffering. However, while the jury awarded $1.7 million, Kolodzik’s family will only receive $778,698. This is because prior to the verdict all the parties had entered into a high-low agreement, in which they set out the maximum and minimum amounts the plaintiffs can receive regardless of the verdict. The parties decided on $242,500 as the low and $778,698 as the high. Therefore, the plaintiffs are unable to claim the full $1.7 million verdict and will instead be receiving the $778,698 as agreed upon.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Illinois truck accidents and and Cook County personal injury matters for more than 35 years for individuals and families in and around Chicago, Cook County and surrounding areas, including Hoffman Estates, Hillside, Hinsdale, Prospect Heights, and Romeoville.

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