$3 Million Judgment for Wrongful Death in Rear-End Collision with Postal Truck

In November 2008, Chavonne Freeman, 53, was stopped in traffic on westbound 144th Place at LaGrange Park in Orland Park, Illinois, when her car was rear-ended by a U.S. Postal Service vehicle. Freeman was taken from the scene to the emergency room at Palos Community Hospital. She complained of neck and back pain. She followed up with her primary care physician two days later with complaints of neck, back and knee pain. 

Six weeks after the crash, Dec. 29, 2008, Freeman was seen by an orthopedic surgeon; she complained of knee pain. She was diagnosed with patellar subluxation (partial dislocation) and instability in the left knee. Surgery was recommended for January 2009 and was performed on July 29, 2009.

Three weeks later, on Aug. 19, 2009, Freeman died from a pulmonary embolism caused by a deep vein thrombosis resulting from the knee surgery. No medical negligence was alleged in the lawsuit filed by her family. 

Freeman was a single mother. She was survived by her 14-year-old son, who is now 18 and living with his grandparents.

The defendant, the United States, argued that Freeman stopped short, causing the crash. The damage to her car was minimal.In addition, 15 months prior to the occurrence, Freeman was reported to have complained to a podiatrist of having knee pain all of her life. She did not report knee pain at the hospital emergency department on the date of the car crash. Therefore, the United States argued that Freeman’s injuries and death were not related to this crash and were related only to her prior condition. 

The case was tried to a judge under the Federal Tort Claims Act, wherein no jury is permitted. 

The judgment of $3,059,440 was made up of the following damages:

  • $2,500,000 for wrongful death;
  • $500,000 for survival pain and suffering and loss of normal life;
  • $42,896 for medical expenses;
  • $11,044 for lost wages; and
  • $5,500 for funeral expenses.

The attorney for the family of Chavonne Freeman was Alan Barinholtz. There was no record of a demand to settle the case and no offer to settle before the trial. However, the judge’s judgment was exactly the same amount as asked in the process of the bench trial.

Estate of Chavonne M. Freeman, deceased v. United States of America, 10 C 8141 (N.D. of IL).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling automobile and car accidents for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 37 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Crestwood, Forest Park, Chicago (Garfield Ridge), Blue Island, Calumet City, Chicago (Lake Calumet), Willowbrook, Oakbrook Terrace, Westchester, LaGrange, Darien, Lemont, Orland Park, Itasca, Elk Grove Village and Rolling Meadows, Ill.

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