On July 14, 2009, the plaintiff Evaristo Hernandez, a 39-year-old truck driver, was driving a 63-foot semi-tractor-trailer during his employment for Transforce Trucking. After Hernandez finished his deliveries that day, he began driving back to his truck yard and was traveling eastbound on 31st Street in Chicago when he stopped for a red light at Western Avenue. That intersection is a T-intersection. Hernandez put on his right turn signal to show that he was about to make a right turn.
At this intersection, 31st Street has only one lane for eastbound traffic plus an adjacent bicycle lane to the right in which cars are not permitted to drive.
The defendant, Gina Valenzio, was eastbound in her SUV and approached Hernandez’s truck from behind. Instead of stopping behind Hernandez, Valenzio drove her SUV into the bike lane along the right side of the Hernandez truck in order to make her right turn.
When the light turned green, Hernandez looked both ways but was unable to see Valenzio’s vehicle because she had stopped in his blind spot.
Hernandez proceeded to make his right turn at which time the truck’s passenger side tugged against the driver’s side of the Valenzio vehicle.
Hernandez immediately slammed on his brakes and down-shifted causing his right shoulder to jam against the gear shift lever. Hernandez testified at trial that he then looked at his side-view mirror and saw Valenzio on her cell phone. Hernandez reported no damage to his truck, while Valenzio’s side mirror was ripped off and her SUV had $1,900 in property damage.
Hernandez went back to work and later tried to unhook his trailer, but could not because his shoulder hurt. He sought medical care the next morning for his shoulder pain.
Hernandez was able to continue working for the next 3 weeks until he went for additional medical treatment and was placed on light duty. A later MRI showed a rotator cuff tendinopathy and he was referred to an orthopedic surgeon who then did a subacromial injection. However, Hernandez’s shoulder pain continued.
On Oct. 26, 2009, Hernandez underwent arthroscopic shoulder surgery for rotator cuff impingement and slight fraying of the rotator cuff. After Hernandez’s physical therapy, he was able to return to full-duty work as a truck driver with no limitations by April 12, 2010.
Hernandez is now employed as a meter reader. The defendant Valenzio admitted that she was driving in the bike lane, but argued that Hernandez failed to keep a safe and proper lookout. In addition, Valenzio claimed that since Hernandez was not injured in the crash, his shoulder injury must be pre-existing and it was not aggravated by the collision.
The defendant’s auto insurance policy limit was $100,000. Plaintiff’s demand for the policy limits was rejected. Plaintiff’s bad faith demand was also rejected by the defendant. Hernandez’s lawyer, Jeremy L. Geller, has reported that the full verdict amount of $312,940 has been paid including costs.
Before trial, Hernandez’s counsel demanded settlement at $100,000, the defendant’s car insurance policy limit. At trial, the jury was asked to return a verdict of $700,000. Before the trial began, the defendant made no offer to settle the case.
The jury’s verdict of $312,940 after reducing the verdict by 10% because of what they believed to be the contributory negligence of Hernandez, was made up of the following damages:
• $112,678 for past medical expenses;
• $20,262 for lost wages;
• $90,000 for disability; and
• $90,000 for pain and suffering.
Evaristo Hernandez v. Gina Valenzio, No. 11 L 6796 (Cook County, Ill.).
Kreisman Law Offices has been handling automobile accident cases, truck accident cases, bicycle accident cases and motorcycle 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 Calumet City, Olympia Fields, Rolling Meadows, Palatine, Palos Park, LaGrange, Barrington, South Holland, Blue Island, Grayslake, Round Lake Beach, Hinsdale, St. Charles, Aurora, Bolingbrook, Joliet, Elgin, Gurnee, Chicago (Wicker Park, Rogers Park, Jefferson Park, Albany Park, Little Village, South Loop, Bronzeville, Hyde Park, Lawndale), Crystal Lake, Cary and Lemont, Ill.
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