As lawyers, we often hear accounts of clients who sustained fairly severe injuries after being involved in a car accident, yet did not have any medical complaints immediately following the crash. This is the case for a pedestrian who suffered a brain injury after being hit by a SUV. Despite her lack of symptoms at the accident scene, a Cook County jury awarded the plaintiff $713,602.
At the time of the Illinois pedestrian-car accident, the plaintiff was walking across a Northbrook intersection when she was struck by a Lexus SUV. There were opposing accounts of what happened. While the defendant driver stated that she was only traveling at one to two miles-per-hour at the time of impact, the plaintiff alleged that the impact was more severe. Also, while the defendant claimed that she merely bumped into the plaintiff, the plaintiff claimed that the impact was so severe that it caused her head to bounce of the defendant’s hood as she was thrown a few feet away.
However, both parties agree that the plaintiff refused medical treatment at the accident scene and did not immediately go to a hospital. Instead, the plaintiff continued on her way, even going out to dinner that night. In fact, it was at dinner that she began to experience some abnormal neurological symptoms.
At dinner, the plaintiff began to feel nauseous and developed sensitivity to both light and sound. However, it was only after she vomited that her friend drove her to the emergency room at Highland Park Hospital. Several tests were run in the ER, including head and neck x-rays and CT scans. At the time, she was simply diagnosed with neck and shoulder sprains, a forehead bruise, and an unspecified head injury.
Upon return to her hometown of Minneapolis, the plaintiff underwent physical therapy for a ruptured left hamstring and a lesion on her left thigh. In addition, her neurological symptoms failed to go away, leading her to eventually seek out the help of a neurologist. At her first visit, she complained of chronic headaches, sensitivity to light and sound, problems concentrating, memory loss, and neck pain. At that time, she was diagnosed with a mild traumatic brain injury, which has since been classified as permanent.
The plaintiff brought a Cook County personal injury lawsuit against the SUV driver for her permanent brain injury and the physical therapy she required as a result of the pedestrian-car accident. The complaint listed the various components of her permanent mild traumatic brain injury, which included memory loss, photophobia, phonophobia, problems concentrating, depression, moodiness, anxiety, fatigue, chronic headaches, and decreased cognitive functions.
While the defendant admitted that she was responsible for the pedestrian-car accident, she refused to agree that the accident resulted in the plaintiff’s brain injury. All that the defendant would admit liability for was the plaintiff’s soft tissue injuries to her head, neck, shoulder, and leg. Likewise, the defendant further argued that even had the car accident caused the plaintiff’s brain injury, that it should have resolved within three months of the accident. The defendant alleged that the plaintiff’s chronic complaints were not based on any medical findings, but purely on her own reports.
However, at the personal injury trial the plaintiff submitted radiology images taken by a SPECT scan. A SPECT scan creates 3D images of your organs and was used in this case to show the plaintiff’s brain as evidence of her mild traumatic brain injury. The plaintiff’s medical expert testified at trial that the SPECT images showed an increased blood flow within the plaintiff’s left frontal lobe, which was the area of her head that hit the defendant’s car. The medical expert also testified that the plaintiff’s brain injury was not structural, but was cellular.
However, the defense discounted the plaintiff’s testimony and the SPECT findings, stating that a SPECT scan is not the standard diagnostic tool to help diagnose traumatic brain injuries. Therefore, the defense contended that the results from the SPECT scan were not conclusive and asserted that they could not be used to support that the plaintiff had suffered a traumatic brain injury. The defense was apparently very convinced in their case because at the trial’s conclusion it suggested that the jury award a maximum of $41,206, which was well below the amount of the plaintiff’s projected future medical bills.
The jury did not give too much credence to the defendant’s suggestion and instead awarded a verdict of $713,602 after just 50 minutes of deliberation. The personal injury jury verdict breaks down into:
$91,250 for past loss of normal life;
$256,200 for future loss of normal life;
$146,400 for future pain and suffering;
$133,500 for future medical expenses;
$54,900 for past pain and suffering;
$25,824 for past medical expenses; and
$5,527 for lost income.
Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Chicago pedestrian accidents for more than 35 years in and around Chicago, Cook County, and its surrounding areas, including Addison, Oak Park, Park Forest, Rosemont, and Des Plaines.
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