Common sense tells us that it is much easier to avoid hitting a stopped car than a moving vehicle. For this reason, when reviewing car accident lawsuits, juries tend to find in favor of the non-moving party more often than for the moving driver. Such was the case in the Chicago personal injury lawsuit of Tracey Walker and Stacey Walker, a minor v. Raul Andrade, et al., 09 L 14073.
Tracy Walker had been driving her vehicle in Chicago’s West Garfield Park neighborhood when she was forced to stop her vehicle because a flatbed truck owned by J&L Towing was blocking the roadway. The defendant truck driver, Raul Andrade, had stopped the truck in order to unload the vehicle from the flatbed. However, rather than unloading it himself, Andrade allowed the vehicle’s owner, Jason Ward to drive the Chevy Caprice down off the flatbed’s ramp. As Ward was driving the Caprice off the truck he ran into the front of Walker’s vehicle.
Tracy Walker sustained soft tissue injuries to her back and to her right shoulder and arm. In addition, her twelve year-old passenger, Stacey Walker, sustained soft tissue injuries to her right arm. Both Tracy and Stacey Walker filed a personal injury lawsuit against J&L Towing, Andrade, and Ward for their negligence in unloading the flatbed truck. The defense repeatedly denied its liability and contended at the Cook County trial that the plaintiff had been contributorily negligent.
Yet when one examines the facts of the case it is difficult to see where Walker was negligent. She appropriately stopped when she realized that Andrade’s truck was blocking the street and did not attempt to go around it into the opposing traffic. It would appear that her only fault was being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
On the other hand, the defendants exhibited their negligence on several occasions. Both Andrade and Ward were aware that Walker’s vehicle was parked behind the flatbed truck. Yet Andrade still allowed Ward to drive his own car off the truck bed, a concession that was not proper under any circumstance. Then as Ward was driving his Caprice down off the flatbed he did so at excessive speeds. So not only did Ward run into Walker’s vehicle, but he did so at a much faster rate than he would have if he had at least been driving at an appropriate speed, which in turn increased the extent of both Walkers’s injuries from the car accident.
Given the obvious nature of the truck driver Andrade’s negligence, the judge entered a directed verdict against Andrade and his employer. The trial judge also entered a directed verdict against Ward because he failed to appear at the Cook County trial. If a defendant does not appear at trial and fails to make a case for himself, the judge has the option of advising the jury to find him guilty.
Therefore, all the jury was left to decide was the extent of the damages to be entered against the three defendants. It entered a $10,085 verdict against the three defendants, with $6,115 going to Tracy Walker and $3,970 to Stacey Walker. While the $10,000 verdict was not as high as the $25,000 demand the plaintiffs’ attorney had made prior to the Cook County trial, the award did cover the property damage from the Chicago car accident and the plaintiffs’ medical expenses.
Chicago’s Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Illinois auto accident cases for over 35 years, serving individuals and families in Chicago, Cook County, and surrounding areas, including Inverness, Cicero, Oak Forest, and Justice.
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