Cook County Jury Delivers Verdict for FedEx in Rear-End Crash; Fernandez v. FedEx Ground Package System, Inc., et al.

A Cook County jury has found that FedEx was not responsible for injuries to Cesar Fernandez on June 13, 2009 when the car he was driving was rear-ended by a FedEx truck. Fernandez was stopped at a red light on Cicero Avenue at 31st Street when his car was rear-ended by a FedEx delivery truck.

The speed of the FedEx truck was disputed, but may have been between 5 mph to 30 mph. The driver of the truck did not testify at trial.

Fernandez, 45, complained of neck and back pain at the scene and was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital where he was treated and released with a diagnosis of lumbar and cervical strain.

Fernandez contended that the impact of the crash aggravated his already degenerative spine and caused a disc herniation at C5-6. Fernandez received 18 months of conservative medical care, which he claimed failed to alleviate his pain. He underwent a 3-level lumbar fusion at L3-S1 and a cervical fusion at C5-6. His medical bills, which were stipulated to by the parties, were $580,000.

The defendants admitted liability, but denied that Fernandez was injured in the collision and contested the nature and extent of his claimed injuries. Defendants cited plaintiff’s pre-existing degenerative disease in his neck and low back since 2002. In addition, the defendants pointed out that Fernandez had been involved in three prior accidents with similar injuries. Defendants argued that plaintiff’s pain was continuous since 2002 through 2009 because of his prior auto accidents.

At the trial, Fernandez admitted that he always had pain in his neck and low back, but he argued it was tolerable until the FedEx crash. The treating surgeon for Fernandez testified that Fernandez was in no need of medical treatment until the FedEx crash made his pre-existing condition much worse and tipped him over the top in terms of the need for surgery.

FedEx further argued at trial that the pre-accident MRI films from November 2008 and post-accident films from July 2009 showed there was no change and therefore Fernandez at most was entitled to his ambulance and emergency department bills from the date of the accident. After the jury received the case from the judge, they deliberated for about 25 minutes before they reached their unanimous verdict in favor of FedEx and its driver.

Before trial, Fernandez’s attorneys demanded a settlement of $500,000 with an offer from FedEx of $200,000, which was declined.

Cesar Fernandez v. FedEx Ground Package Systems, Inc., et al., 09 L 15682.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling automobile crashes, truck accidents and personal injury matters for individuals and families for more than 36 years, in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including, Chicago (Humboldt Park), Lincolnwood, Evergreen Park, Joliet, Lisle, Chicago (Ukrainian Village), Chicago (Edgewater), Niles, Morton Grove and Round Lake Beach, Ill.

Photo credit: Denton.

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