Despite the defendants’ claims that the plaintiff had not been seriously injured in a Cook County car accident, the Illinois jury awarded him $97,433 in Kenneth Linkevich v. Jose A. Alarcon and Yemi O. Oyewole, 09 L-635. The Illinois personal injury claim was filed by the plaintiff driver, who was injured when his car was struck by the defendants’ two vehicles after they collided at an intersection.
In 2007, plaintiff Linkevich was stopped at a red light at an Illinois intersection, facing east on Apple Valley Drive in Bartlett, Illinois. While Linkevich was waiting for his light to turn green, Jose Alarcon began making a left-hand turn from northbound Route 59. However, in the process of turning, Alarcon crashed into a southbound car being driven by Yemi Oyewole. Alarcon and Oyewole’s vehicles not only crashed into each other, but then spun and crashed into Linkevich’s stopped vehicle.
Plaintiff Linkevich was 39 years-old at the time of the Illinois car crash and was employed as a truck driver. As a result of the car accident, Linkevich sustained an acrominal impingement injury, a disc herniation in his lower back, and developed arthritis in his right shoulder. Linkevich was unable to return to work for at least two weeks following the car accident.
At the Illinois personal injury trail, the main issue revolved around whether Alarcon or Oyewole had the right of way. If the traffic light had been red at the time, then the car crash would have been caused by Oyewole running the red light and hitting Alarcon. However, if the light were not red at the time, then the car accident could have been caused by Alarcon turning instead of yielding the right of way to Oyewole.
The defendant Alarcon contended that Oyewole had run the red light and therefore it was Oyewole, and not Alarcon, who caused the Illinois car accident. However, Oyewole, a civil engineer, argued that the light had not turned yellow until he had entered the intersection and that Alarcon had in fact caused the Illinois car accident by turning left in front of the co-defendant. In addition to the two defendants, the jury heard from several other witnesses.
The Illinois police officer who completed the accident report testified that each party at the scene had told him that the traffic light was yellow. However, this testimony was later refuted by the plaintiff and an additional eyewitness, both of whom stated the light was red at the time of the Illinois car crash. And on an odd note, there was a witness listed on the police report who testified that she had not been at the accident scene and therefore had no independent memory of the accident, despite being listed on the accident report.
In addition, both defendants were suspicious of Linkevich’s medical injury claims. Both Alarcon and Oyewole argued that plaintiff had not complained of any injury at the car accident scene, nor had he received treatment of his supposed injuries until nine months after the Illinois car accident. Furthermore, plaintiff was claiming lower back injuries, but had a history of two prior back surgeries at L4-L5. Both defendants used these facts to suggest that Linkevich had not really been injured at the car accident scene, nor had he been injured to the extent that he was claiming.
However, the Illinois jury must have not found the defendants’ arguments compelling because it found in favor of the plaintiff for a total verdict of $97,433. The verdict included $18,128 for medical expenses, $12,115 for property damage to the plaintiff’s vehicle, $2,200 for lost time from his job as a truck driver, $45,000 for pain and suffering, and $20,000 for loss of normal life.
In so far as to the issue of who caused the Illinois car crash, the jury found Alarcon to be at fault rather than the co-defendant Oyewole. It will be interesting to see whether Alarcon’s attorneys appeal considering that defendant Alarcon was barred from testifying at trial, nor was he present at trial. This lack of substantiated testimony may have swayed the jury more in favor of Oyewole than Alarcon. While Oyewole was allowed to testify before the jury, the court simply gave a “missing witness” jury instruction to the jury in order to account for Alarcon’s absence.
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