393,000 Jury Verdict When Semi-Tractor-Trailer Rear-Ends SUV on Expressway

A federal court jury entered a $393,750 verdict for the plaintiff, Carmen Santillan, 47, who was driving her SUV westbound on Interstate 90 in Chicago when her car was rear-ended by a semi-tractor-trailer driven by the defendant, Daniel Ducharme.  Ducharme was employed by Martin’s Bulk Milk Service, Inc. The crash, on July 11, 2008, was with great force in that the impact bent the rear frame of Santillan’s SUV and pushed the SUV ahead. 

Carmen was taken to Lutheran General Hospital, where she remained hospitalized for four days with knee, back and neck pain. She was later diagnosed with a herniated L5-S1 disc. She also claimed right knee and shoulder trauma, which required injections. This  led to permanent disability. She never returned to work after the accident and currently receives Social Security disability benefits. Her medical bills totaled $104,000. Carmen was an airline reservation clerk for 18 years before the crash.

The defendant, Ducharme, claimed that the crash took place because he was trying to free his floor mat, which had become trapped under the accelerator pedal. Liability was admitted by the defendants. The case was tried on damages only. Before the conclusion of the trial, the parties discussed high/low parameters, but could not reach an agreement on that.

The federal court jury’s verdict of $393,750 was made up of the following damages:

$40,000 for past and future medical expenses;

$185,000 for past and future loss of earnings and benefits;

$18,750 for past and future loss of normal life;

$150,000 for past and future pain and suffering.

The demand before trial was $925,000 with an offer of $300,000.  Plaintiff’s counsel, Milo Lundblad, asked the jury to return a verdict of $2,200,000. 

Carmen Santillan v. Daniel Ducharme and Martin’s Bulk Milk Service, Inc., No. 10 C 6505 (U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois). 

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling truck accidents cases, car accidents and nursing home abuse 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 37 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Orland Park, Oak Forest, Worth, Riverdale, Evergreen Park, Lincolnwood, Northbrook, Chicago (Edison Park), Chicago (Albany Park), Chicago (Ukrainian Village) and Bensenville, Ill.

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