Forrest Buchtel, 74, was riding his bike southbound on Sherman Avenue in Evanston, Ill. He stopped for a stop sign at Greenleaf Street, which is a four-way stop intersection and then began peddling his bike into the intersection when he was hit by an eastbound car driven by the defendant, Jason Whitaker.
Buchtel testified that he saw the Whitaker SUV about one-half block away as he peddled through the intersection and observed that Whitaker was not looking at the road ahead while talking to a woman in the front passenger seat. Whitaker ran the stop sign.
The impact between the SUV driven by Whitaker and Buchtel on his bike, knocked him onto the hood of the SUV and then onto the pavement of the street.
Buchtel sustained a concussion, brief loss of consciousness, left-sided 6th cranial nerve palsy causing partial double vision in his left eye, chronic balance and gait problems and chronic low back pain. He proved up $38,188 in past medical expenses.
At this Cook County jury trial, Dr. Elitades testified that Buchtel’s balance/gait deficits were due to central or inner ear vertigo resulting from the head trauma and the back pain that Buchtel suffered due to sacroiliac joint dysfunction caused by the bike/SUV crash.
Buchtel was a professional trumpet player who performed with numerous famous musicians, including Count Basie, Woody Herman, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Stan Kenton and Blood Sweat & Tears.
The defendant, Whitaker, a property claims manager employed by American Family Insurance Co., which was also a defendant in this case, was on his way to a home inspection at the time of the crash. Defending his actions, Whitaker claimed he did stop at the stop sign and testified he did not see Buchtel until shortly before the impact.
Whitaker said that the plaintiff, Buchtel, rode his bike into the front wheel area of his SUV. To support that claim, Whitaker introduced his vehicle photo that showed a dent above the driver’s side front wheel well.
The defendants, Whitaker and American Family, contested the nature and extent of Buchtel’s injuries. The defendants maintained there was no mention of eye movement problems by Buchtel until a month after the occurrence. Defendants argued that the 6th nerve problem was a microvascular palsy unrelated to this occurrence. Defendants also maintained that the post-concussion syndrome resolved within one year and Buchtel’s current gait problem and sacroiliac pain were not related to the crash.
Buchtel’s lawyers, Stuart W. Opdycke and Jesse B. Opdycke, reported that the last settlement demand made by counsel for Buchtel was $600,000 with the last offer by defendants being $50,000 with an indication of $100,000. The defendants’ lawyers reported that the last demand was $1,500,000 and the last offer was $100,000.
The Cook County jury’s verdict of $238,088 had been reduced by 29% off of $335,335 versus both defendants, American Family Mutual Insurance Co. and Jason Whitaker, accounting for contributory negligence on Buchtel’s part. The jury’s verdict was made up of the following damages:
- $156,121 for pain and suffering;
- $54,853 for loss of normal life;
- $27,113 for medical expenses.
At trial, Buchtel’s lawyers presented experts in internal medicine, ophthalmology and rehabilitation and physical medicine. The defendants presented experts in neuro-ophthalmology and neurology.
Forrest Buchtel v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co., Jason Whitaker, No. 14 L 203 (Cook County, Ill.).
Kreisman Law Offices has been successfully handling bicycle injury lawsuits, motorcycle accident cases, truck/automobile crash cases and catastrophic injury cases for individuals, families and loved ones who have been injured, harmed or killed by the negligence of another for more than 40 years, in and around Chicago, Cook County and surrounding communities, including Lake Forest, Round Lake Beach, Skokie, St. Charles, Western Springs, Hinsdale, Glenview, Northbrook, Vernon Hills, South Chicago Heights, Palos Heights, Palos Hills, Park Ridge, Barrington Hills, Bellwood, Bensenville, Berwyn, Chicago Heights, Chicago (Little Village, Little Italy, Greek Town, Chinatown, Bronzeville, Oakland, Kenwood, Jackson Park, Pill Hill, Roscoe Village, Hegewisch), Blue Island and Melrose Park, Ill.
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