Illinois Head-On Car Crash Results in $483,000 Jury Verdict – Guide v. Garlanger

An Illinois personal injury lawsuit resulting from a head-on collision resulted in a $483,000 verdict. While there was not any debate regarding who was at fault for the car accident, there was some disagreement as to the extent of the plaintiff’s injuries and whether her sustained injuries had impacted her career; Gina Guide v. James Garlanger, 09 L 1867.

The plaintiff, Gina Guide, was a two-time U.S. national weightlifting champion and was training to earn a slot on the 2012 U.S. Olympic weightlifting team. However, on November 21, 2007, James Garlanger was out driving in icy and snowy conditions when he lost control of his car. Garlanger’s car crossed into oncoming traffic and crashed head-on into Guide’s vehicle.

The 22 year-old Gina Guide sustained a compound fracture and dislocation of her right ankle, multiple fractures along her tibia and fibula, and several torn ligaments. Since her 2007 car crash, Guide has required three different surgeries to treat her leg injuries and is likely to need two additional procedures. And despite all these procedures, Guide walks with a permanent limp and cannot flex her right ankle.

At the trial, the plaintiff’s attorneys contended that in addition to the physical injuries Guide sustained as a result of the Illinois car accident, she had also suffered a devastating blow to her career. Roger Nielsen, Guide’s personal coach and the coach of the women’s Olympic weightlifting team, testified at the personal injury trial that based upon Guide’s performances prior to the 2007 crash that he anticipated that Guide would be a member of the 2012 Olympic team. In addition, Nielsen testified that Guide was one of the best female weightlifters he had ever worked with. However, that Now because of her complex injuries following the 2007 accident, Guide was no longer be a candidate for the 2012 Olympic team.

However, the defense contended that it was speculative as to whether or not Ms. Guide would make the 2012 Olympic team. It cited two other female weightlifters who were ranked ahead of Guide in 2007, yet failed to make the 2008 Olympic team. In addition, the defense argued the difficulty in predicting athletic success, using the example of Michael Jordan being cut from his high school basketball team to emphasize the uncertainty of athletic prowess.

In addition, the defense disputed the extent of Guide’s injuries following the Illinois head-on collision. To support its claim, the defense cited the two national weightlifting titles Guide has won since the 2007 crash. Also, the defense pointed to the testimony of Guide’s treating physician that her weightlifting activities were a significant factor in her pain to support its argument that her continued weightlifting was making her ongoing ankle problems worse.

Both the plaintiff and defense demonstrated strong evidence to support their claims, which is perhaps why both parties entered into a high-low agreement prior to the jury verdict. A high-low agreement is an agreement regarding the maximum, or high, and minimum, or low, amounts each party agrees to pay regardless of the jury outcome. In this case the high-low agreement was $320,000 (low) – $899,579 (high), which means that regardless of the jury verdict the plaintiff would not get less than $320,000 or more than $899,579.

The jury returned a verdict of $483,073, which was between the high-low agreement and therefore was the actual amount that the defendant would need to pay out for Guide’s damages from the Illinois car crash. The jury verdict was broken down into the following damages: $225,000 for pain and suffering, $123,073 for medical bills, $125,000 for disability, and $10,000 for disfigurement.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Illinois auto accident lawsuits and Cook County truck accident cases for individuals and families in and around Chicago, Cook County, and surrounding areas, including Elmhurst, Elk Grove Village, Glendale Heights and Niles.

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