Illinois Jury Returns $167,000 Verdict in Stop Sign Car Crash; Fuentes v. Dovin

Jackie Fuentes was driving northbound in 2006 on East 15th Road in Wallace Township, LaSalle County, while defendant Amanda Dovin was traveling westbound on North 31st Road. East 15th was a through street at this intersection, while North 31st had stop signs for east and westbound traffic.

Defendant Dovin stopped at the stop sign before making a left turn onto southbound East 15th and crashed into Fuentes’ car. The impact forced Fuentes’ car into a ditch on the west side of East 15th Road.

Fuentes, 24, was taken to the local hospital’s emergency room, where she was diagnosed with a cervical strain, abdominal pain and a chest bruise. All of the tests conducted there were within normal limits except for an x-ray of her spine, which showed reversal of lordosis, a change in curve of the neck, caused by soft tissue swelling in her neck.

Fuentes later complained of low back pain, which she said was caused by this crash. In August 2007, Fuentes began treatment with a pain management specialist who gave her bilateral sacroiliac joint injections, five lumbar epidural steroid injections, three lumbar facet joint injections and radoviofrequency ablation of the left sacroiliac joint.

A radoviofrequency ablation is a medical procedure in which part of the electrical conduction of the affected area is heated, brought on by the high frequency of the alternating current. This procedure is done without a general anesthetic, which usually leads to minimizing pain in the joints. However, Fuentes continued to complain of significant pain in her right leg.

Defendant Dovin, 16, said she was not familiar with the area in which the crash took place, and she claimed that her view of northbound traffic was blocked by the geography of the roadway. She said a bridge with a dip and a hill made it difficult to see approaching traffic. After impact with the plaintiff’s vehicle, it was estimated that she was traveling at about 55-60 mph; the collision caused her car to spin three or four times and come to rest facing eastbound.

Dovin was ticketed for failure to yield and failure to provide proof of automobile insurance. She pleaded guilty to the failure to yield ticket and paid the fine while the ticket regarding insurance was dismissed. Because of the guilty plea, that evidence was heard by the jury.

The defendant disputed that the plaintiff’s injuries and the need for surgery were necessary and connected to the crash.

After hearing the evidence, the jury’s verdict of $167,000 was made up of the following damages:
• $37,000 for pain and suffering;
• $30,000 for loss of normal life; and
• $100,000 for medical expenses.

Fuentes showed that her medical bills were actually $166,956.

The attorneys for Fuentes were Matthew Krueger and Mollie Ralph of Streeter, Ill. Before trial, the attorneys for Fuentes made a demand for $100,000, which was the insurance policy’s limits. The offer to settle was $9,800.

Jackie Fuentes v. Amanda Dovin, 07 L 173 (LaSalle County).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling automobile and truck crashes for individuals and families injured in these cases for more than 36 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Bridgeview, Morton Grove, Chicago (Rogers Park), Evanston, Wilmette, Highwood, Chicago (Edgewater), Lake Villa, Villa Park, Oakbrook Terrace, Oakbrook, Willowbrook, Darien and Oak Forest, Ill.

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