277,000 Illinois Jury Verdict for Driver’s Ligament Hand Injury

When someone has been in a major car accident, their injuries are oftentimes fairly obvious and not contested by either party. However, if the car accident is a relatively minor fender-bender, the injuries are often not as obvious or as immediate. Smaller accidents tend to result less in broken bones and more in soft tissue injuries, such as ligament strains, muscle strains, etc. However, these soft tissue injuries can still result in large medical bills and have permanent effects on the injured party.

In a recent DuPage County car accident lawsuit, the plaintiff received $277,000 for a ligament tear in her wrist. This verdict was delivered despite the fact that the plaintiff failed to seek medical attention for her wrist injury until about a month after the actual car crash. In addition, her claimed injury was at the site of a prior work injury, for which she had already undergone multiple surgeries.

The accident in question occurred on Rowling Road (Route 59) in Addison, Illinois; Rowling has just one lane of traffic in each direction with a wide, paved shoulder on either side. Prior to the accident, the plaintiff driver was making a right-hand turn onto a residential roadway; meanwhile, the defendant driver was attempting to pass the plaintiff on the right shoulder. The plaintiff reported that she saw the defendant driver on the shoulder and quickly turned left in order to avoid a major collision. However, there was a glancing blow between the two vehicles, which fortunately only resulted in minimal damage.

The plaintiff reportedly struck her hand on her center console, causing pain to her right wrist. Prior to the car accident, plaintiff had undergone two surgeries to repair a ligament tear in her right wrist that was caused by a work injury. And even though she did not seek medical treatment for over a month following the crash, her physician reported that the car accident caused an additional injury to her right wrist. As a result of the additional damage, the plaintiff had to undergo four more surgeries to her right wrist.

The defendant driver contested the nature of the plaintiff’s injuries. At the DuPage County trial, the defense produced an engineering expert who testified that photographs showed that there was only minimal damage to both vehicles. Based on his assessment, the engineer testified that the impact was not sufficient to cause any injury to the plaintiff. Instead, he attributed her hand problems to her prior work injury, prior surgeries, and the underlying degenerative nature of her condition. In addition, the defense produced a letter the plaintiff had written to the defendant’s employer in the weeks following the truck crash, stating that she was not hurt. This letter was presumably written before the plaintiff retained counsel.

In addition, the defendant driver stated that the plaintiff had caused the car accident. He testified that prior to the accident she was stopped at the roadway with her left turn signal on, presumably waiting to make a left turn. Based on this appearance the defendant drove onto the right shoulder to pass her. It was at this point that she unexpectedly turned into him, allegedly causing the accident.

Despite the defendant’s expert testimony, the jury ended up deciding in favor of the plaintiff. In response to a special interrogatory asking whether the defendant’s “conduct [was] a proximate cause of any of the plaintiff’s alleged injuries or a proximate cause of any alleged aggravation of any pre-existing condition or injury,” the jury answered in the affirmative.

The jury entered a verdict of $291,593, which was then reduced by 5 percent for what it deemed to be the plaintiff’s own negligence in causing her injuries. The resulting $277,013 verdict included $143,646 for her medical expenses and $6,596 in lost time as a clerical worker. Prior to the DuPage County trial, the plaintiff’s counsel, Bradley Pollock and Adam Kruse, had made a demand to settle for $875,000; the defendant’s highest offer was $100,000. K.U. v. R.K., 06 L 581 (DuPage County).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Illinois automobile accident and truck crash lawsuits for individuals and families for more than 36 years in and around Chicago, Cook County, and surrounding areas, including Hoffman Estates, Hanover Park, Villa Park, Cicero, Elmwood Park, Burbank, and Woodridge.

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