Retired Judge Admits Negligence – 91,000 Jury Verdict in 4-Car Chain Reaction Crash; Clark v. Tucker

Most car accidents are fender-benders, i.e., they result in some property damage to the vehicle and fairly mild injuries to passengers. This is because many accidents take place at slower speeds, e.g., when a vehicle is slowing down, or speeding up from a stop. However, the faster a car is going, the greater the risk for injury. This is why highway accidents are often much more tragic than intersection accidents.

Yet drivers to not need to be traveling in excess of 55 mph in order to do severe damage. In the Illinois personal injury case of Christopher Clark v. Creed D. Tucker, 07 L 96 (Champaign County), a driver rear-ended another car while driving 40 mph. The force of the impact caused the the first car to propel not one, but two more cars forward, making it not just a two-car accident, but a four-car accident.

The car at fault for the rear-end accident was being driven by 81 year-old Creed Tucker, a retired judge from the Champaign County district. The first driver he hit was 16 year-old Christopher Clark, whose car was completely totaled as a result of the multiple car accident. The force of the impact pushed Clark’s car forward into the next car, which then pushed into the car in front of that. Clark filed a personal injury lawsuit against the former judge in an effort to recover damages for the injuries Clark sustained following the car crash.

While Judge Tucker admitted his negligence and liability for causing the multiple car crash, he denied the extent of Clark’s injuries. Clark’s orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Hurford, testified at the Champaign County trial that Clark had suffered from “non-specific chronic thoracic spine pain” following the car accident.

When a party suffers from non-specific chronic pain, the nature and extent of the injury is almost always contested by the opposing side. This is because the diagnosis of chronic pain often depends on subjective findings, e.g., the party’s reports of experiencing pain, rather than objective findings, e.g., an x-ray showing a broken bone. So while it is difficult to disprove that someone broke their collar bone, it is fairly easy to suggest that someone might not be experiencing as much pain as they are reporting.

However, what is interesting about the Clark matter is that Judge Tucker was not completely denying that Clark was experiencing non-specific spine pain. Rather Judge Tucker was denying that Clark’s spain pain was truly chronic, or persistent, in nature. Judge Tucker admitted liability for Clark’s pain for about three and a half years following the accident and did not dispute the extent of Clark’s injuries during that time frame. However, Judge Tucker denied that any pain and treatment following that three and a half year period was related to the multiple car crash.

In contrast, Clark claimed that he will continue to need medical care related to the injuries he sustained in the multiple car accident, including prescription medications, chiropractic care, and doctor visits. In addition, Clark’s orthopedic surgeon said that he will continue to suffer from the non-specific chronic thoracic spine pain for at least ten years, not the three and a half years that the defense was suggesting.

In its verdict, the Champaign County jury awarded Clark not only for past suffering and medical expenses, but for future medical expenses and future suffering as well. The $91,307 verdict was broken up in the following damages:
• $13,967 for past medical expenses;
• $32,340 for future medical expenses;
• $30,000 for past and future pain and suffering; and
• $15,000 for past and future loss of normal life.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Illinois automobile collisions matters for individuals and families for more than 35 years in and around Chicago, Cook County, and surrounding areas, including Westmont, Oak Lawn, Midlothian, Round Beach Lake, and Hoffman Estates.

Similar blog posts:

Chicago Rear-End Accident Receives $110,000 Jury Award Despite Preexisting Medical Condition – Thomson v. Mueller

Chicago Rear-End Collision Results in $222,000 Verdict – Castillo v. Chicago Transit Authority

Teenage Driver Causes Intersection Accident – $177,624 Awarded in Lewandowski v. Butler