Illinois Appellate Court Upholds Minimal Damages Award In Rear End Collision Case

medical record pageEven if you can establish that the person who caused your injuries acted negligently, you still may not receive compensation. Personal injury lawsuits are complex and require plaintiffs to prove a variety of factors in order to recover compensation for their injuries and damages. For example, the plaintiff must also prove that the defendant’s negligence was the cause of the injuries that he or she sustained. As seasoned Illinois car accident lawyers, we have handled a variety of cases that involve complicated causation matters. As a recent appellate opinion shows, having an experienced attorney to guide you through the process can make all of the difference.

The facts of the case are as follows. The plaintiff was driving in stop-and-go traffic when a vehicle traveling behind her struck the back of her vehicle. As a result of the impact, the plaintiff’s vehicle struck the rear of the vehicle that was traveling in front of her. The plaintiff also testified that she struck her knees and body on the dashboard of her vehicle at the time of the impact. The plaintiff was taken to an emergency room and advised to make an appointment with her family physician. Her doctor examined her and concluded that her injuries were a result of the accident. He advised her to undergo physical therapy, which she did. Some time thereafter, the plaintiff reported experiencing new pain and injuries, which the doctor also attributed to the accident. He then referred her to a surgical doctor, concluding that physical therapy was not improving her injuries.

The plaintiff underwent additional treatment, testing, and examinations. At each step, her doctors concluded that her pain and injuries were results of the accident. In total, the plaintiff’s bills amounted to a little under $30,000. During trial, the defendant offered evidence from an expert orthopedic surgeon, who testified that the plaintiff’s medical records included information suggesting that she had experienced back pain and injuries to her back before the accident occurred. The medical records included information about treatments that the plaintiff had undergone for various complaints, including numbness, tingling, chronic pain, and discomfort.

At the conclusion of trial, the jury awarded the plaintiff $1,000 for her reasonable medical expenses and no compensation for her pain and suffering. The jury also awarded no damages for the plaintiff’s “loss of a normal life experience” claim. The plaintiff filed a motion seeking a new trial, arguing that the jury’s conclusion was against the manifest weight of the evidence. The court denied the motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

On review, the appellate court upheld the lower court’s denial of the motion for a new trial, citing multiple items of evidence in the record that supported the jury’s damages award. For example, the appellate court noted that the plaintiff failed to inform the emergency room physicians who treated her after the accident about her pre-existing neck, back, and shoulder condition, and the plaintiff’s injuries and complaints following the accident involved the same nature and scope as the injuries and complaints she reported in the years leading up to the accident.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Personal injury lawsuits are complicated and daunting, especially if you are also coping with painful injuries. A seasoned Chicago personal injury lawyer can assist you with asserting your rights, determining which types of evidence to present, and finding expert witnesses to assist you at trial. We offer a free consultation, so call us now at 773-545-8849 or contact us online to get started.

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