Articles Posted in Spinal Cord Injury

A Cook County jury has found in favor of an injured driver whose car was rear-ended at a traffic light on eastbound Liberty Street at Route 59 in Aurora, Ill. The crash took place on Jan. 23, 2008 when the 19-year-old defendant failed to stop his vehicle and rear-ended the car driven by the plaintiff, Mr. Castillo. Although there was very little damage to the cars, Mr. Castillo, 38, was taken to the emergency room at Rush Copley Medical Center in Aurora. He was released after x-rays were shown to be negative.

Mr. Castillo sustained neck pain and low back pain and received no medical treatment since 2008. He missed three months of work as a bricklayer totaling a claimed amount of $33,000 in lost pay.

However, at the time of the crash, the plaintiff was unemployed. He received a job offer after the crash, but was unable to accept it due to his injuries from this crash. The wage loss claim was based on the job he was forced to refuse.

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On Memorial Day 200, M.P. was severely injured when her car was hit by a sheriff’s officer who was driving his car at about 75 mph through a red light on the Midlothian Turnpike. M.P. suffered partial paralysis and has since lived in a nursing home. She is paralyzed below her neck and unable to speak. The crash killed M.P.’s passenger.

Approximately 90 minutes after the crash, a blood exam revealed that M.P. had exceeded the legal limit of alcohol. M.P.’ s lawyers argued that her body was still absorbing the alcohol when the blood test was done and that her intoxication level was lower at the time of the crash. Cook County countered that M.P. was eliminating the alcohol at the test time, so her alcohol content was actually higher at the time of the crash.

The lawsuit was brought by M.P. against the Cook County Sheriff’s Department, but the trial judge excluded evidence of M.P.’s alcohol consumption. In that jury trial, it was found that M.P. was 25 percent responsible for the crash, but the jury awarded her $26.8 million.

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A recent Cook County lawsuit was reviewed by the Illinois Appellate Court, which found that the trial judge had erred in dismissing the plaintiff’s personal injury claim. While the judge had held that the case facts supported a summary judgment in favor of the defendant hospital, the appellate court found that there was sufficient evidence to support some of the plaintiff’s claims. Caburnay v. Norwegian American Hospital, 2011 IL App. (1st) 101740 (Dec. 23, 2011).

The injury in question occurred at Norwegian American Hospital. The plaintiff, Dr. Fernando Caburnay, was an anesthesiologist at the hospital and was waiting for an elevator at the time of his accident. It was a rainy day and a 6 ft. x 10 ft. rubber mat had been placed in front of the elevator. As Dr. Caburnay was stepping back from pressing the call button, he tripped backwards over the mat. The back of his head hit a couch, and he fractured his spine, leaving him a quadriplegic.

Dr. Caburnay filed a personal injury lawsuit against Norwegian American Hospital, the basis of which was their negligence in creating a dangerous situation in the form of the rubber and fabric mat. Dr. Caburnay testified that the mat was the cause of his injury; he tripped after catching his foot on a fold in the mat and falling backwards. However, the hospital denied liability for Dr. Caburnay’s injuries and filed a motion for summary judgment in which it asked the judge to dismiss the claims against Norwegian American Hospital. The judge complied, at which point Dr. Caburnay filed an appeal.

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