A settlement was reached with the family of a 13 year-old quadriplegic boy whose injuries were sustained in a 2008 car crash in Skokie, Illinois. As a result, the boy is limited in his ability to communicate and is relying on a ventilator to breath. He is paralyzed from the neck down.
According to a lawsuit that was filed in 2009 against the driver of a sport utility vehicle that collided with a station wagon that was driven by the boy’s father, the boy was a passenger in the front seat when it was struck by the northbound SUV attempting to turn east onto Old Orchard Road from Skokie Boulevard. This crash took place in front of the Old Orchard Shopping Center, a usually congested traffic area.
During the discovery phase of the case, the parties disputed the speeds of the different vehicles, lanes in which they were travelling and the color of the traffic lights.
The attorney who represented the driver of the SUV contended that his client was not at fault. He said multiple witnesses would have testified that his client was following a green light and was traveling within the speed limit when the crash occurred. According to the defense attorney, the case was one which needed to be settled, he said because of the appeal of the young boy and his father. According to the report of the case, the attorney for the defendant also commented about what he thought Illinois law would allow if the case had gone to trial. The defendant’s lawyer, according to the report may not have been entirely clear on his interpretation of Illinois comparative fault law when applied to this case. Because the child was a passenger, there was no way that any comparative responsibility for the crash could be assigned to him. The basis of this analysis can be found in Illinois law, 735 ILCS 5/2-1116, the comparative negligence statute that was first enacted in 1986. A plaintiff’s recovery for injury will be reduced by the amount or percentage of plaintiff’s own acts that contributed to his/her damages, unless the plaintiff is more than 50% at fault for causing his/her injuries or damages. Alvis v. Ribar, 85 Ill. 2d 1, 27-28 (Ill. 1981).
The settlement terms were that the defendant’s insurance carrier will pay $5.5 million while the insurance company for the boy’s father will pay $100,000 to make up the total settlement of $5.6 million.
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