$100,000 Verdict for Rear-End Highway Crash Causing Cervical Spine Damage

On Oct. 2, 2009, the car driven by defendant Monica Carroll, a 57-year-old attorney, rear-ended James Anderson’s car on northbound Illinois Interstate 94 between Lake Cook Road and Route 22.  Anderson was a 66-year-old retiree who alleged that the impact caused neck pain or accelerated a degenerative condition in his cervical spine, which required physical therapy, steroid injections and radiofrequency ablations to alleviate his pain.

Radiofrequency ablation is utilized to reduce pain. An electrical current produced by a radio wave is used to warm up the area of pain usually a nerve tissue, which in many cases leads to decreasing the pain signals from that specific area.

Anderson was told by his treating physician that he would require fusion surgery for a C4-5 disc herniation and degenerative cervical spine with the possibility of a 3-level fusion procedure needed at C4-7. However, Anderson has not undergone the surgery. At trial, Anderson produced past medical expenses of $55,000 although $125,000 for future surgery costs was barred by the court.

Although Anderson had a pre-existing degenerative spine, he maintained that he was in excellent health before the crash. The defendant admitted negligence, but disputed the nature and extent of the impact and injuries as well as causation.

The defendant argued that Anderson did not seek medical treatment until about 27 days after the collision. The defense also maintained that only the first year of medical treatment would have been related to the crash. No complaints of radiating pain were documented until October 2010, so no treatment after that date was related to this occurrence. Finally, the defendant maintained that the collision did not cause the need for surgery such as the 3-level fusion. Defense counsel noted that all of the medical witnesses who testified agreed that the radiofrequency ablations were unrelated to the accident.

The jury’s verdict of $100,000 was made up of the following damages:

• $70,000 for past and future medical expenses;
• $25,000 for past and future pain and suffering; and
• $5,000 for past and future loss of normal life.

The demand to settle the case before trial was $200,000. The attorney for James Anderson, Richard Drainor, asked the jury to return a verdict for $550,000. The offer to settle the case before trial was $140,000.

James Anderson v. Monica Carroll, No. 11 L 10224 (Cook County, Illinois).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling automobile accidents, car crashes and truck accident cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 38 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Chicago (Lincoln Park, Little Italy, Loyola Park, McKinley Park, Morgan Park, Roseland, Chinatown, Forest Glen, Gold Coast, Greek Town, Hegewisch, Humboldt Park), St. Charles, Western Springs, Schaumburg, Round Lake Beach, Park Ridge, Palatine, Oak Park, Joliet, Aurora, Geneva, Glencoe, Highland Park, Hinsdale and Lincolnwood, Ill.

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