Date: June 21, 2013
Written by: Timothy McArdle
We recently obtained a $1,455,00.00 jury verdict for a client injured in a bike collision on the streets of Chicago. Before the trial began, the defendant offered only $50,000, which was rejected. It was an interesting serious personal injury case, which gives us an opportunity to look at some of the challenging aspects of personal injury jury trials. Our client was a middle aged man employed in the insurance industry. He was physically active, and rode his bicycle to work each day when the weather permitted. On a July afternoon several years ago, he was making his way home in the marked bicycle lanes along California Avenue when the front wheel of the bike encountered wet cement, causing the wheel to sink and the bike to abruptly stop. Our client was thrown over the handlebars, and landed head first on the street. Because he was wearing a helmet, he was spared a brain injury, but the fall did result in fractures of his cervical spine, and a spinal cord injury. Although his physicians and therapist did a great job restoring most function, he had permanent impairment in the left arm, and leg, and constant pain and tingling in those limbs.
We brought suit on his behalf against a construction company that was installing a water main at that location. On the day of this bicycle accident, they had filled a 3 foot wide trench which they previously dug across the street. They failed to cover the wet concrete, and to use flagmen, or other devices to keep traffic away from the hazard they had created. Investigation revealed that the City of Chicago issued construction permits that required flagmen or arrow boards, and the use of other barricades to maintain a safe flow of traffic through the area under construction. At trial, these permits were instrumental in demonstrating that the defendant had ignored its obligations.
The defense sought to demonstrate, among other things, that our client was solely responsible for his own injury because he should have seen, and recognized that the variation in color on the city street was wet concrete, and thus he should have stopped ot changed his course. They even hired an expert witness, and created a $70,000.00 animation to convince the jury. In the end, we succeeded in having the court determine that the animation was not admissible, and could not be used because it was not an accurate presentation of what our client could have seen on the day of the occurrence.
In the end, the jury found the defendant 90% responsible and our client 10% responsible. Finding and enforcing those often overlooked agency regulations that are not readily available in the statutes, and an aggressive attack on the defendants’ attempt to recreate the incident in animated form made all the difference in receiving the favorable verdict in this spinal cord injury case.
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