$175,000 Cook County Jury Verdict in Head-On Crash in Snowstorm

On Jan. 27, 2011, the defendant, 55-year-old Wayne Mallek, was driving eastbound on Signal Hill Road in North Barrington, Ill., during snowy weather. As Mallek went down a steep hill approaching a stop sign at Route 59, he realized he was not going to be able to stop in time due to the accumulation of packed snow on the road. Traffic traveling on Route 59 did not have any stop signs or traffic control devices at that intersection.

Mallek applied his brake hard, pumped the brakes and then swerved sharply to the right but his vehicle did not slow down or respond until he reached the intersection due to the steep decline.

As a result of that maneuver, Mallek slightly sideswiped a southbound box truck driven by the defendant Santiago Nava who was employed by Randolph Packing. Nava was in the scope of his employment at the time.

In the meantime, as Nava was approaching the intersection, he saw Mallek’s vehicle heading out of control toward the intersection so he swerved over to his left in an attempt to avoid a collision. He lost control of his truck on the slippery road, causing the truck to cross the centerline and crash head-on with the car driven by Katrina Louise who was driving northbound on Route 55.

Louise, 45, suffered aggravation of a pre-existing degenerative disc disease at L4-5 as a result of the head-on crash. Her injuries resulted in a discectomy surgery and lumbar fusion. Louise also suffered a torn right rotator cuff, neck strain, contusions and abrasions.

Mallek, 55, argued that he did not know or had reason to know that there was icy or slippery road conditions on Signal Hill Road until it was too late. He maintained he acted reasonably safely in his attempt to stop at and/or avoid entering the intersection, that he had completely stopped before his vehicle was hit by Nava’s truck and that his vehicle had only partially entered Route 59. He also maintained that Nava had enough room to pass him without crossing the center line.

The defense for Nava, the truck driver, was that he was not negligent since he was confronted with a sudden and unexpected emergency.

Before the trial began, the lawyers for Louise — James Tutaj and Theresa Freeman — made a demand for $495,000. There was an offer of $40,000 made by the attorneys for Santiago Nava. The other defendant, Randolph Packing Co., made no offer. At the end of the jury trial, the attorneys for Katrina Louise asked the jury to return a verdict of $705,715.

The jury’s verdict of $175,000 versus Wayne Mallek only was made up of the following damages;

• $124,000 for pain and suffering;
• $49,000 for medical expenses; and
• $2,000 for lost income.

The jury returned a verdict of not guilty as to Santiago Nava and Randolph Packing Co.

Katrina Louise v. Wayne Mallek, Santiago Nava, Randolph Packing Co., No. 11 L 11632 (Cook County, Illinois).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling automobile accident cases, truck accidents cases, motorcycle accident cases, head-on crash 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 Oak Lawn, Evergreen Park, Harvey, Oak Forest, Orland Park, Burr Ridge, Hinsdale, Wheaton, LaGrange, Westchester, Maywood, Schaumburg, Lockport, Skokie, St. Charles, Geneva, Evanston, Deerfield, Cicero, Chicago (Oz Park, Bronzeville, Bucktown, Logan Square, Wicker Park, West Loop, Wrigleyville, Lincoln Square, Horner Park, Hegewisch), Round Lake and Oak Park, Ill.

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