2 Million Verdict in Stop Sign Collision with Postal Carrier; Henriksen v. United States

Kurt Henriksen was driving westbound on Eagle Lake Road in Peotone, Ill., when a postal worker was driving northbound on 104th Street and pulled out from a stop sign directly in front of his vehicle. Henriksen had the right of way; a high-impact collision occurred involving the two cars.

The rural route postal carrier was delivering mail in her own car. Before the crash, Henriksen, 53, had a long history of low back and leg pain following a low back fusion. He had been treating with a pain management physician for over 12 years and managed his pain with medicine.

Following this crash, Henriksen developed increased back pain, increased left leg pain and pain radiating into his right leg and foot.

There was no objective evidence found on MRI or EMG that the crash caused any greater injury to the plaintiff. However, his neurosurgeon physician testified that the collision did in fact cause stretching of a nerve in the lumbar spine, which led to the onset of chronic and constant right leg and foot pain.

As it turned out, Henriksen’s low back and left leg symptoms resolved. He continued to have right leg/foot pain, however. As a result of the pain in his right leg and foot, the plaintiff was no longer able to perform his duties and the responsibilities as a lab manager at the University of Chicago. He left his job.

At the trial, the defense admitted negligence, but disputed the nature and extent of plaintiff’s injuries. This case was tried under the Federal Tort Claims Act and thus was heard by a judge only. No jury was involved.

In finding for Henriksen, the federal district court judge’s verdict of $2,030,362 was made up of the following damages:
$1,804,766 to Kurt Henriksen:
• $800,000 for pain and suffering and disability;
• $994,860 for past and future wage loss;
• $5,132 for past medical expenses;
• $4,775 for property damage.

Mr. Henriksen’s wife, Kathy Henriksen, also was a plaintiff who received $225,596 for loss of consortium, which is the loss of love and affection she would have received from her husband if not for his injuries in this case.

The attorneys representing Kurt and Kathy Henriksen were Robert R. Duncan and John L. Nisivaco. Before trial, a $1,600,000 demand was made and then later withdrawn. The government’s only offer to settle the claims was $300,000.

Kurt Henriksen, et al. v. United States of America, 09 C 2398. (U.S. District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division)
Kreisman Law Offices has been handling automobile and truck crash cases for individuals and families for more than 36 years, in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Chicago (Bronzeville), Lisle, Hinsdale, Lemont, Lockport, Chicago (Horner Park), Skokie, Schaumburg, St. Charles, Western Springs and Melrose Park, Ill.

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