Truck Mechanic Settles Lawsuit Against Trucking Companies and Railroad

A recent Cook County work site injury lawsuit was settled for $3.375 million; Ortiz v. Cato Karabegovic, et al., No. 06 L 006651. Contributing to the settlement were two trucking companies, a truck driver, and a railroad company.

The plaintiff, Ortiz, was a mechanic working at a railroad yard on Chicago’s South Side. While working on the defendant Karabegovic’s truck, Ortiz was severely injured after being dragged for 30 feet underneath the moving truck. As a result of this incident, Ortiz sustained multiple fractures and severe nerve damage to his leg, which left him with a permanent foot drop. The 33 year-old Ortiz is no longer able to work as a mechanic as a result of the injury
However, there was some debate regarding who was liable for the plaintiff’s injury and to what degree the plaintiff contributed to his own accident. Issues of contributory fault are important in Illinois personal injury lawsuits because if the defense can prove that the plaintiff was more than 50% at fault then any judgment entered against the defense is reduced by the degree of plaintiff’s negligence. For example, if a jury returned a $100,000 verdict but found that the plaintiff was 40% negligent, then the jury award would be reduced by 40%, leaving the plaintiff with $60,000.

In Ortiz, plaintiff alleged that the truck driver was negligent for driving off without first determining whether the plaintiff was working under the truck. The plaintiff also alleged negligence on the part of the truck driver’s employers and the railroad yard for not ensuring that safety measures were in place and followed.

However, the defendants alleged that the plaintiff failed to follow safety rules that were in place to avoid similar accidents. According to the defendants, when a mechanic is working underneath a truck the railroad requires that they take the driver’s keys, choke the wheel, or place cones in front of the truck to indicate that a mechanic is working. The plaintiff did not take any of these precautions; instead, he just began working under the defendant’s truck.

Because this case did not go to trial, issues of contributory negligence were not decided. Instead, the defendants agreed to pay a settlement to the plaintiff for the injuries he sustained. Because this plaintiff is no longer able to work, the settlement money will have to serve as his current and future income.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Illinois personal injury lawsuits for over 30 years, serving those areas in and around Cook County, including Wheaton, Winnetka, Arlington Heights, and Evergreen Park.

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