Illinois Personal Injury Claim Reviewed By Appellate Court: Uphold Denial of Plaintiff’s Motion to Keep Out Two Prior Accidents

In Illinois, parties to a lawsuit can file motions in limine in an effort to keep certain information from being brought up at trial. The Illinois Appellate Court recently reviewed an Illinois personal injury case, Ford v. Grizzle, No. 5-08-0185, after the plaintiff claimed the defense received a favorable jury verdict due to the Circuit Court’s denial of plaintiff’s motion in limine.

The plaintiff’s motion in limine sought to prevent evidence being introduced related to plaintiff’s two prior traffic accidents and injuries. However, the defense contended that this information was relevant because there was extensive medical evidence demonstrating that the prior injuries were relevant to the plaintiff’s current injuries.

The trial court denied plaintiff’s motion in limine and the information was allowed at the Illinois personal injury trial. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the defense, which led to the plaintiff’s appeal to the Illinois Appellate Court that the introduction of the evidence regrading the two prior injuries had prejudiced the jury.

The defendant in the Illinois personal injury case argued that the information was relevant because even though the defendant admitted that he had negligently rear-ended the plaintiff’s vehicle that the plaintiff was not injured to the degree claimed in the his complaint. Therefore, the information regarding plaintiff’s two prior accidents and subsequent injuries was relevant to the defendant’s argument.

In addition, there was some argument regarding whether the plaintiff was even injured during the accident. According to the plaintiff, the defendant’s vehicle was going 20-25 mph at the time it struck the plaintiff’s stopped truck. However, the defendant claimed that the plaintiff’s vehicle did not show any signs of damage, which would infer that the defendant was not going as fast as 20-25 mph at the time of impact. Furthermore, the plaintiff did not make any inference to his injuries at the scene of the accident, nor did he go to the hospital immediately following the Illinois car crash.

At trial the plaintiff’s treating neurosurgeon testified that the plaintiff had required a cervical fusion as a direct result of his injuries in the accident at issue. However, the Illinois surgeon also testified that he had no knowledge of the plaintiff’s prior accidents or his history of chronic pain.

Prior to the relevant accident the plaintiff had been seeing a chiropractor for treatment of his injuries due to the prior traffic accidents. However, after undergoing the surgery that the plaintiff alleged was related to the most recent accident his pain rapidly declined.

Following the return of a verdict in favor of the defendant the plaintiff filed an appeal with the Illinois Appellate Court that stated the trial court had incorrectly denied its motion in limine regarding his prior accidents and injuries and that this information had unfairly prejudiced the jury’s decision. The plaintiff asserted that the evidence should not have been introduced because the defendant had failed to introduce evidence that showed a connection between the prior accidents, the injuries, and the later Illinois car accident.

However, the Illinois Appellate Court upheld the trial court’s decision, thus affirming the Illinois personal injury jury verdict. The appellate court asserted that information regarding a prior injury or preexisting condition may in fact be relevant when a plaintiff is claiming damages in an Illinois personal injury claim. However, the court did affirm that if the defense wanted to introduce prior accident evidence than it needed to provide expert evidence showing that the prior accident or injury was relevant to issues of causation or damages.

Chicago’s Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Illinois personal injury cases for over 30 years, serving those areas in and around Cook County, including Barrington, Oak Park, Naperville, and Blue Island.

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