Chicago is home to two baseball teams, the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox. The Cubs’ Wrigleyfield ballpark is located deep in the heart of Wrigleyville and is most easily accessed by public transportation. While the White Sox’s U.S. Cellular Field can also be reached via public transportation, it is also easily accessible from the expressway and has many parking options. As a result, many White Sox fans choose to drive to see their favorite team.
On game day traffic around U.S. Cellular Field can be extremely dense, as White Sox fans Nicholas Barbarigos and Dean Vla discovered on August 21, 2009. The Chicago fans were driving on the Dan Ryan expressway to see the White Sox battle the Baltimore Orioles. As Barbarigos’s vehicle neared the exit ramp at 33rd Street, it encountered a sudden stop in traffic. While Barbarigos was able to stop his vehicle in time, the cab driving behind him was not. The cab rear-ended Barbarigos’s vehicle, running it into the stopped car in front of it.
The White Sox fans brought an Illinois personal injury claim against the defendant cab driver and his employer, filed as Nicholas Barbarigos and Dean Vla v. Mohamed Ali Abdi and LW Cab Corp., 09 L 10066. The complaint alleged that as a result of the highway accident, both Barbarigos and Vla suffered from lower back pain. Barbarigos was able to treat his soft tissue injury and bulging lumbar disc conservatively. However, Vla needed to undergo a back surgery and fusion in order to repair the his severe cervical back pain.
As is typical in rear-end collisions, the cab driver accepted liability for the car accident. This is because juries tend to view the rearmost driver as the cause of a rear-end accident more often than blaming the front driver. Even in cases where the front driver stops suddenly, the assumption is generally that it was to avoid an accident and that the rear driver should have been paying better attention. Therefore, it was not surprising that the defendant cab driver and his employer did not contest liability.
Also not surprising was that the defendant cab driver did contest the nature and extent of the plaintiffs’ injuries. Especially in the case of Barbarigos’s soft tissue injuries it is sometimes difficult for plaintiffs to prove that the injury was exclusively caused by the car accident. Most people have some sort of back pain and disc degeneration as they get older; however, it often only becomes noticeable after some sort of traumatic injury, like a car accident. It is much easier to prove the extent of an injury like Vla’s back injury, which required surgery and was more obviously linked to the highway car accident.
The difference in the nature of both plaintiffs’ injuries and the way the jury views each injury is clearly reflected in the personal injury jury verdict. The Illinois jury entered a $291,681 verdict against the defendant cab driver and his company; $277,600 of that jury verdict was awarded to Vla, while only $14,041 went to Barbarigos.
Vla’s $277,600 award was broken down as follows:
-$107,630 for medical expenses;
-$100,000 for past and future wage loss;
-$50,000 for past pain and suffering;
-$10,000 for future pain and suffering; and
-$10,000 for past and future loss of normal life.
Barbarigos’s $14,041 award included:
-$6,000 for lost time from his job;
-$3,051 for medical expenses;
-$2,500 for pain and suffering; and
-$205 for past disability.
For over 35 years, Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Illinois car accident lawsuits for individuals and families in and around Chicago and Cook County, including Morton Grove, Brookfield, Blue Island, Midlothian, Chicago Ridge, and Lyons.
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