Articles Posted in Auto Accidents

Aundre Hobbs, 15, was a passenger in a car driven by his friend, another teenager, Armon Jones.  Armon reportedly turned left at a green left-turn signal and crashed into a car driven by James Gorham.

Aundre suffered a traumatic brain injury that required several life-saving surgeries. Aundre is now 17 years old.  He has lost the ability to speak, swallow, or chew solid foods and has severely diminished mobility, requiring a wheelchair and a walker. Aundre’s medical expenses were more than $1.46 million.

Aundre’s parents, on his behalf, sued James Gorham claiming that he chose not to heed a red light at the intersection and was responsible for the crash. The lawsuit also maintained that Gorham was driving 50 mph through the intersection, 10 mph over the speed limit, according to black-box evidence obtained from his vehicle.

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In August 2013, Matthew and Marcia Seebachan bought a used 2010 Honda Fit from a car dealer relying on a CARFAX vehicle report that showed that the car had a clean history with no structural repairs or hail damage.

Unbeknownst to the Seebachans, the Honda’s previous owner had taken the vehicle to John Eagle Collision Center in 2012 to repair hail damage to its roof.  Instead of being welded with a new steel roof using 108 welds, as specified by the Honda Corp., this collision center used a glue-like adhesive to attach the new roof.

In December 2013, the Seebachans were traveling on a highway when a Toyota pickup truck hydroplaned and struck the Honda head on. On impact, the Honda’s roof separated from the body of the vehicle. The roof separation set off a chain of structural failures: the safety cage collapsed, the driver’s side roof rail deformed; and the rocker panel underneath the vehicle collapsed, puncturing the gas tank beneath the driver’s seat.

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On Aug. 7, 2013, Jessica Williams, 27, was stopped in traffic on eastbound Route 143 at the intersection with Blackburn Road in Edwardsville, Ill. The defendant, 29-year-old Jacob Smith, rear-ended the car she was driving. She sustained soft tissue injuries that required chiropractic treatment resulting in a total of $13,287 in medical expenses. Williams contended that the defendant, Smith, had a duty to exercise reasonable care and caution to avoid the crash and that he chose not to follow the rules of the road.

The defendant denied that Williams was injured in this collision.

Before trial, Smith’s insurance company offered $11,000 to settle the case. The jury was asked to return a verdict of $50,000.

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On Oct. 25, 2013, Joseph Wasielewski and Anthony Stazak were in a car that was eastbound on Interstate 80 near Harlem Avenue in Tinley Park, Ill. It was then that the defendant, Cindy Guttman, 18, drove a car that rear-ended their vehicle.

Wasielewski claimed a cervical strain, lumbar strain and aggravation of spondylosis at L3-4.  According to the report of this case, his medical expenses were $39,736.

Stazak claimed that the rear-end collision caused aggravation of his prior L4-S1 fusion requiring revision surgery and lumbar radiculopathy. At trial, it was shown that Stazak’s past medical expenses were $15,461 with future medical expenses expected to reach $125,000.

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In this case, Giuseppina DiFranco was driving in stop-and-go traffic when her car was struck from behind by the car driven by Constance Kusar. The DiFranco car then hit the car in front of her making her knee strike the dashboard and jerking her back and forth.

Right after the crash, DiFranco said she had neck, back and arm pain and was taken by ambulance to Glen Oaks Hospital in Glendale Heights, Ill.

Over the next months, she was treated for tenderness at the lower back and right pelvis. She reported moderate pain; the treating physician concluded that she had a cervical strain, arm strain, forearm strain and back strain. The doctor recommended physical therapy and pain relievers. After months of physical therapy and other treatment, DiFranco was diagnosed after an electromyogram with a pinched nerve in her cervical area related to the crash of June 9, 2011.

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In this incident involving a cab and pedestrian, three weeks after Express Cab Dispatch Inc. and Express Cab Company Inc. (collectively, Express Cab), leased Luis Leal a taxi cab, he struck a pedestrian, the plaintiff, Margaret Baumrucker.  She was walking to her job at MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn, Ill. Although Leal was driving at a slow speed, he knocked Baumrucker to the ground injuring her left shoulder.  She had years of physical therapy and, according to her physician, the shoulder injury is permanent and likely will cause her pain and restrict some activities for the rest of her life.

Baumrucker sued Express Cab, alleging negligence and willful and wanton entrustment of the cab to Leal. Baumrucker sued Leal for negligence and argued that Express Cab acted recklessly by choosing not to thoroughly check Leal’s driving record, which would have shown that while living in another state he had been convicted of driving while intoxicated in 2000 and ticketed for speeding more than 85 mph in 2010. Express Cab conceded that Leal was negligent and Baumrucker was injured, but contested the extent of her injuries and the allegations that Express Cab acted willfully and wantonly by entrusting the cab to Leal.

After a jury trial, a verdict was returned in favor of Baumrucker and signed a verdict for $897,740.81, which included $397,740.81 in compensatory damages plus $500,000 in punitive damages.

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Mazda Motor Corp. appealed a judgment involving its Mazda 3 car. There were two jury verdicts that resulted from two product liability claims filed in Alabama. The lawsuits arose out of a crash involving a Mazda 3 driven by then 16-year-old Sydney McLemore, with 15-year-old Natalie Hurst as a passenger.

McLemore was driving 55 mph in a 35-mile-per-hour speed zone when she lost control of the car. The Mazda spun around and hit a light pole before coming to a stop and then burst into flames.

McLemore suffered third-degree burns covering approximately 15% of her body. Unfortunately, Natalie Hurst died from her burn injuries. The Hurst parents filed a lawsuit against Mazda and McLemore, asserting wrongful death. They also filed what was important in this case — a product liability lawsuit and claim related to the fuel tank of the Mazda 3.

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The plaintiffs in this case filed a complaint against the defendant insurance company, United Equitable Insurance Co., alleging breach of contract in bad faith when United Equitable would not pay the plaintiffs’ claims from an auto accident involving an uninsured motorist.

The plaintiffs filed a motion for summary judgment, which the trial judge granted. On appeal, United Equitable argued that the court erred because the policy required plaintiffs to unequivocally demand arbitration and appoint an arbitrator within two years of the incident, which plaintiffs did not do.

The appeals panel stated that the court erred in granting plaintiffs’ motion. The arbitration provision in the insurance policy stated that disagreements concerning uninsured motorist coverage and damages “shall be submitted to arbitration” within two years. A party sufficiently commences arbitration if the request for arbitration is unequivocal and made according to the terms of the policy.

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Shirley Malcolm, 89, was using a walker while moving through a retail parking lot at 1090 State St. in Lemont, Ill. It was April 28, 2016 when she was hit by the SUV driven by the defendant, Janice Kasper, as the car slowly backed out of a parking spot.

The impact knocked her down, injuring both of her hands. She was transported from the scene by an ambulance to Palos Community Hospital where she was diagnosed with a fractured left index finger and a fractured right middle finger.

Both of her fingers were placed in splints for eight weeks after which she required three and a half months of occupational therapy to regain the use of her injured fingers.

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Emanuele Secci was injured after his motorcycle was involved in a crash with the defendant Aram Tonakanian, who was driving a green and white taxi marked with United Independent Taxi Drivers‘ insignia. The jury found that Tonakanian was United’s agent, but not an employee. With that verdict, the trial court granted United’s motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) under the state’s code of civil procedure.

The appeal of that trial judge’s order resulted in an appeal where the appellate court reversed the trial court’s order and reinstated the jury’s verdict. In doing so, the appeals panel concluded that California law does not preclude consideration of controls required by public regulations in finding an agency relationship.

In this case, viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, Secci, the appellate court concluded that the evidence presented at trial was more than sufficient to support a jury finding that Tonakanian, the taxi driver whom the jury found responsible for the crash and Secci’s injuries, that he was United’s agent and thus, United was vicariously liable for Tonakanian’s acts.

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