A Cook County jury came to a decision in a Chicago trucking accident case involving a Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) bus driver and a semi-trailer. The truck driver admitted to having caused the truck accident; however, her lawyers contested the extent of the CTA bus driver’s injuries. The Illinois jury returned a verdict of $363,853 in favor of the plaintiff bus driver in Earnestine Johnson v. Marian Pociask, Mr. Bult’s, Inc., 09 L 1613.
At the time of the Chicago truck accident, the plaintiff, Earnestine Johnson, and the defendant truck driver, Marian Pociask, were both driving down Chicago’s LaSalle Street and were both making a left-hand turn onto 47th Street. However, Johnson was making the turn from the left-hand lane, while Pociask was making the turn from LaSalle’s center lane. As Pociask was turning, her truck clipped the right front bumper of Johnson’s bus.
Not only did Pociask’s truck drift into Johnson’s lane, causing the accident, but Pociask was making an illegal left-hand turn from the center, straight-only lane. At the time of the bus accident, Pociask was employed by Mr. Bult’s, a waste transportation company. Both Pociask and her employer were named as defendants at the personal injury trial and both admitted liability for the truck accident.
However, both defendants contested the nature of Johnson’s injuries. Ms. Johnson alleged that as a result of the Illinois trucking accident she suffered from a lower back injury. Johnson herniated her L4-L5 disc and eventually required a lumbar laminectomy in order to help alleviate her pain. However, the 55 year-old bus driver was placed on a permanent work restriction, which her attorneys argued as justification for requests for past and future lost wages.
What was unique about this case was a videotape submitted into evidence. Because Johnson was driving a CTA bus at the time of the truck accident, a camera mounted to the bus was recording the events leading up to and surrounding the bus accident. However, while one would assume that the videotape would be a valuable tool for the plaintiff bus driver, it was in fact one of the defendants’ key pieces of evidence.
The videotape showed Johnson attending to her passengers following the crash, which the defendants used to support their claim that she was not seriously injured by the truck accident. Furthermore, the defendants pointed to the fact that Johnson only complained of knee pain at the scene of the accident as further evidence that her lower back injury was not associated with the trucking accident.
This argument is one that defendants regularly make: that a failure by a plaintiff to complain of their injury immediately following an accident means that said injury could not have been caused by that accident. However, this argument fails to take into consideration that sometimes an injury’s onset is gradual, or that there is not a direct correlation between degree of pain and severity of injury. Yet this seemed to be the defendants’ sole argument, which they made repeatedly throughout the course of the Chicago personal injury trial.
The jury did not seem overly convinced by the defendants’ argument; not only did it enter a verdict in favor of the plaintiff, but the majority of the damages were related to past and future wage losses. The jury entered a verdict for $363,853 against both defendants made up of $63,853 for medical expenses; $300,000 for past and future wage loss.
Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Chicago truck accidents lawsuits for more than 35 years for individuals and families in Chicago, Cook County, and surrounding areas, including Evanston, Wilmette, Oak Park, Cicero, Mundelein, and Forest Park.
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