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

There is the old adage that practice makes perfect, a concept that is easily applied to driving ability. In general, the longer a driver has been driving, the better he or she is at it. This is why teenage drivers are required to log practice hours before being eligible for their license and also why insurance rates are so high for young drivers. With more driving experience comes better judgment and skills.

The Illinois personal injury lawsuit of Lewandowski v. Butler, 08 L 5450, illustrates the idea that newer drivers lack some of the knowledge and skill that comes with more experience. The defendant driver was 17 years-old at the time of the relevant car accident. The auto accident took place at the intersection of Jackson St. and River Road in East Dundee, where the teenage driver hit the plaintiff’s vehicle.

The teenage defendant was attempting to cross River Road and stopped at the stop sign as appropriate. He then continued through a line of stopped vehicles in the southbound lanes, at which point his view of the northbound traffic was obstructed by a large semi-truck. As the plaintiff was driving northbound on River Road, the defendant pulled out into her lane of traffic, resulting in the two-vehicle crash. As a result of the intersection accident, the plaintiff driver sustained severe back injuries, including exacerbation of her pre-existing herniated cervical disc injuries.

In his defense, the teenage driver argued that he was waved into the intersection by another driver and had therefore assumed that the coast was clear. Presumably a more experienced driver would not have been so trusting of another driver. When driving, you alone are responsible for your actions and vehicle; it is unsafe to put the onus on another driver to tell you when the coast is clear. Likewise, the defendant argued that the plaintiff driver’s actions had contributed to the Illinois intersection accident, in another attempt to place the blame on someone else.

The defense argued that the plaintiff driver should have sounded her horn to warn the defendant of the avoidable car accident. Likewise, the defense argued that the plaintiff should have kept a better lookout and then slowed down to avoid the collision. However, the same could presumably been said for the defendant driver – had he kept a better lookout or slowed down, then perhaps the auto accident would not have happened at all. And while the defendant did admit that he was negligent, it seems that the defendant is then placing a higher standard of duty on the plaintiff than he is willing to accept himself.

The Illinois jury did not seem to accept the defendant’s accusations and instead entered a $177,624 verdict in favor of the plaintiff driver. Of that Cook County personal injury verdict, the bulk was for medical expenses, i.e., $88,958. The car accident had aggravated the plaintiff’s pre-existing herniated cervical disc and required her to undergo a vertebrae fusion in order to treat her pain and discomfort. The remaining jury verdict award was broken down as follows:

-$75,000 for pain and suffering;
-$10,000 for loss of normal life; and
-$3,666 for the lost time from work during plaintiff’s recovery.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Illinois car crash lawsuits for over 35 years, serving those areas in and around Cook County and Chicago, including Naperville, Schaumburg, Lake Forest, and Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood.

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