Jury Awards Bicyclist 269,000 Verdict in Intersection Crash Despite Lack of Eyewitnesses – Bettag v. Mackie

It is relatively rare for a car accident lawsuit with no eyewitnesses to go all the way to trial if neither party admits liability, mainly because it runs the risk of turning into a he said, she said type of scenario. Yet the Illinois bike accident lawsuit of Eric M. Bettag v. Douglas J. Mackie, 09 L 8162, seems to be an exception to this rule – not only did the personal injury lawsuit go to trial, but the jury entered a $269,000 verdict in favor of the injured plaintiff.

The case revolved around a 2007 accident that occurred at the Oak Park intersection of Lake Street and Euclid Avenue. Eric Bettag was riding his bicycle northbound on Euclid Avenue when he was struck by Douglas Mackie’s SUV. Mackie was driving westbound on Lake Street at the time. Both Bettag and Mackie claimed that they had a green light and that the other party had run a red light. However, considering that the parties were driving at perpendicular paths, it would be impossible for both to have had a green light.

Again, typically if both parties claim the right of way, the dispute is settled by an unbiased eyewitness. However, there were no eyewitnesses to the early morning bike accident and therefore no one to collaborate either Bettag’s or Mackie’s statements. While there was limited testimony regarding the circumstances of the accident itself, here was much to say about the extent of Bettag’s injuries following the Cook County bicycle accident.

Considering that Bettag was on a bicycle when he was struck by Mackie’s blazer, he sustained some fairly severe injuries following the accident. He suffered several severe fractures to his left knee and a torn muscle. As a result, Bettag underwent an open reduction internal fixation of his left knee as well as knee surgery and removal of part of his meniscus.

In addition, one of his treating physicians testified that the 37 year-old Bettag will likely suffer from early degeneration of his knee and possibly need a future knee replacement. And while the jury should definitely consider the likelihood of future medical treatment when calculating its award, the defense was able to bar any testimony regarding the potential cost of a future knee replacement surgery.

Yet despite this, the defendant was unable to convince the jury that Bettag caused the intersection accident, which might have been due to Bettag’s testimony stating that Mackie apologized to him at the scene of the accident. While one could argue that Mackie was simply sorry that Bettag was injured, for most people an apology is an admittance of negligence.

When asked in a special interrogatory whether the plaintiff was contributory negligent for the accident and his own injuries, the jury answered, “No.” As a result, the $269,492 jury verdict was not reduced and the defendant was responsible for covering the full jury award. The jury verdict was broken down as follows:

-$33,512 for past medical expenses,
-$75,000 for past and future loss of normal life,
-$150,000 for past and future pain and suffering, and
-$10,980 for lost income from his job.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handing Chicago bicycle accidents for more than 35 years in and around Chicago, Cook County, and surrounding areas, including Clarendon Hills, Tinley Park, Elk Grove Village, and River Forest.

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Chicago Jury Rules Both Plaintiff and Defendant Responsible for Intersection Accident – Vasiliadis v. Cortese

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