Articles Posted in Neck Injury Cases

On Oct. 12, 2010, the plaintiff Christina Marshall was driving southbound on Route 71 in Ottawa, Ill.  When stopped behind a line of backed up traffic waiting for a school bus to drop off children, the driver traveling behind Marshall slammed on his brakes and swerved his van onto the northbound lane to avoid striking the plaintiff’s vehicle. The driver behind the van, the defendant, Callie K. Steith, 27, also braked but was unable to stop in time and rear-ended the Marshall vehicle.

Marshall, 25, contended that the impact caused a herniated C5-6 disc, which led to an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion.

The defendant argued that Marshall made an unnecessary sudden stop, the view of Steith of the roadway in traffic was obscured because it was downhill, the crash was low speed with minimal impact and Marshall suffered only a neck strain.

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Julie Sheridan injured her right shoulder, right knee, left arm and the back of her neck after she was involved in a three-car crash at the intersection of Ogden Avenue and River Drive in Lisle, Ill., in February 2010. After the crash, Sheridan refused an ambulance and did not receive medical treatment that day. Instead she drove 300 miles to her home in Union, Mo., and saw a doctor there for symptoms one day later.

She received pain and anti-inflammatory medication for her symptoms, which she said did not relieve her pain. An orthopedic surgeon who saw Sheridan in May 2010 tried but failed to discover her reported numbness, tingling and decreased strength.

The orthopedic surgeon testified during the trial that Sheridan had full range of motion in her neck and left shoulder, normal grip strength in her left hand, normal reflexes in her left arm and proper sensation throughout her left hand. The orthopedic surgeon could not identify the cause of her symptoms.

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Marilyn Kayman was injured in a car crash on Jan. 30, 2009 in which her car was struck from behind by the car driven by the defendant Janice Matthews Rasheed. Kayman went to the emergency room at Hinsdale Hospital shortly after the crash but was discharged the same day. She continued to have neck pain and other symptoms.

Kayman visited her family practice physician on Feb. 4, 2009. She was subsequently referred to an orthopedic surgeon and was treated between 2009 and 2012. At the recommendation of the orthopedic surgeon, Kayman underwent physical therapy and was also prescribed medical devices to use at home to help alleviate her pain.

Kayman filed a lawsuit against Rasheed claiming the accident had caused her neck and back pain, headaches and other symptoms. Rasheed admitted negligence in striking Kayman’s car, but disputed the extent to which the 2009 collision caused Kayman’s alleged injuries.

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On Sept. 9, 2008, the plaintiff, Kevin Burkhamer, was injured when he was struck by a car driven by the defendant, Mel Richard Krumske. Burkhamer filed a lawsuit against Krumske claiming that he injured his hip, elbow, shoulder, left hand, neck and back. Burkhamer was employed as an ironworker and excavator. The plaintiff’s total medical bills were just under $45,000.

At the jury trial, the defendant Krumske admitted negligence and did not attend the trial. During direct examination of Burkhamer, he was asked if he ever had a conversation with the defendant. After the plaintiff responded no, the defendant’s lawyer objected. The trial judge sustained the objection on the basis of relevance. The plaintiff then was asked if he was aware that defendant had admitted negligence just before trial. When the plaintiff answered yes, the trial court sustained defendant’s objection and ordered the jury to “disregard the mention of the timeline.” The plaintiff Burkhamer was then asked if the defendant called him to apologize. Defense counsel objected on the basis of relevance, and the trial court granted his request for a sidebar.

At the sidebar, the defense counsel argued that the plaintiff’s line of questioning was designed to inflame the jury and moved for a mistrial. The court agreed that the line of questioning was improper and sustained the objection trial and the judge took the motion for mistrial under advisement. “I’m going to let us proceed and then we will. I’ll be able to determine this, of course the point is cited at the present. However, it may be possible that future conduct would be an appropriate consideration on my ruling on this motion . . .”

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Scott Rankin, 37, was riding his bicycle on a two-lane rural, nonresidential road when he collided with the back of a United Parcel Service truck parked partially on the road. Rankin suffered serious injuries, the worst of which resulted in incomplete quadriplegia. He had been a band director earning about $60,000 a year, but now is unable to work.

Rankin filed suit against UPS claiming negligence per se for its driver’s violation of the Texas Transportation Code. The statute prohibits trucks such as a UPS vehicle in nonresidential districts from leaving their vehicles on the main part of the highway unless it is impractical to do so.

Rankin alleged that UPS endangered others on the road by choosing not to train its drivers on applicable parking laws in an effort to promote driver efficiency and safety.

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On Feb. 2, 2012, Elliot Gonzalez was walking northbound across Erie Street at May Street in Chicago when he was hit in the crosswalk by Patrick Kennely’s pickup truck. Kennely was a commercial property manager and was making a left turn from northbound May Street onto Erie at the time of the accident.

The plaintiff, Elliot Gonzalez, 19 at the time, sustained three transverse process vertebral fractures, a sprained ankle, contusions and bruises. His medical bills totaled $32,627. He also missed a week and half of work as a cell phone salesman.

Kennely admitted liability but contested the plaintiff’s claims of damages. His attorney cross-examined Gonzalez’s treating physician and orthopedic surgeon for 4 ½ hours regarding the care and treatment he gave to the plaintiff. The jury apparently was persuaded by that round of cross-examination because its verdict of $29,565 was less than the offer to settle the case, which was $45,000.

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During a jury trial in LaSalle County, Ill., the jury found in favor of Ty Benckendorf, who was a backseat passenger in a car traveling southbound in Marseilles, Ill., on Oct. 20, 2010. The defendant, 75-year-old Juliann Huber, was driving a car that was heading southwest. It pulled into the path of the Benckendorf car, causing the crash. Benckendorf, 18, sustained a herniated cervical disc and soft tissue injuries. The jury learned that Benckendorf had $12,000 in past medical expenses.

The defendant admitted negligence but disputed the extent of Benckendorf’s claimed injuries and damages.

The attorney for Benckendorf, Jennifer L. Kiesewetter, made a demand to settle the case before the start of the trial for the policy limits of $100,000. The jury was asked to return a verdict of $250,000. The only offer made by the defendant’s counsel before trial was $23,000.

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On Sept. 8, 2011, the defendant 31-year-old Anna Tudzich, was driving a car that rear-ended John Dodaro’s car on southbound Harlem Avenue near 47th Street in Lyons Township, Ill. The 30 mph impact caused Dodaro to experience immediate neck and back pain and significant damage to his pickup truck and the defendant’s vehicle as well.

Dodaro was a 40-year-old carpenter who was transported from the scene by an ambulance. He alleged that the collision aggravated his pre-existing degenerative lumbar disc and caused a new onset of cervical pain. Dodaro had longstanding prior lumbar complaints and had undergone physical therapy one day before this crash. However, the plaintiff had no previous history of cervical complaints.

An MRI that was done in October 2011 showed herniated discs at C5-6 and C6-7 with a small herniation at C4-5. Dodaro underwent a cervical epidural injection in February 2012 and bilateral cervical facet joint injections in April 2012. Dodaro’s treating orthopedic surgeon said he would require future cervical spine surgery although future medical expenses that were originally claimed were withdrawn at trial.

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On May 9, 2009, Christopher Billmann, 27, was stopped on Route 176 in Island Lake, Ill., when his car was rear-ended by the defendant Brian Freeman in what was described as a violent impact. Billmann sustained a lumbosacral sprain, soft tissue injuries and a bulging disc. Billmann claimed to have received $16,181 in medical bills, which were unpaid.

The defendant Freeman admitted negligence but disputed the nature and extent of Billmann’s alleged injuries. Billmann’s treating physicians opined that Billmann suffered a lumbosacral sprain that turned chronic. Another doctor, an orthopedic surgeon, testified that Billmann’s bulging disc was due to the trauma, since Billmann had no prior symptoms. He required an MRI and an injection for the pain derived from the bulging disc.

The defendant Freeman brought his own expert orthopedic surgeon to the jury trial who offered the opinion that Billmann suffered a self-limiting lumbosacral sprain, which required only six to eight visits to a chiropractor or physical therapist and that all other treatment was unnecessary and unreasonable.

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On Sept. 10, 2007, Paul Ermel was driving a semi-tractor northbound on Route 47 in Sugar Grove, Ill., when the defendant, Zachary McVeigh, who was approaching in his car from the southbound, attempted a left turn. He was trying to turn on at Waubansee Drive, which is the entry for the Waubonsee Community College. McVeigh misjudged Ermel’s truck, thinking it was stuck and stopped as part of the construction work that was going on at the area. McVeigh turned his vehicle into the front driver’s side of Ermel’s semi-truck.

Ermel, 38, alleged that the impact of the crash caused him to sustain bulging discs or aggravation of pre-existing degenerative conditions in his cervical and thoracic spine, damage to neck ligaments, cervical instability and a cervical fistula. He required two cervical fusion surgeries. The first was at the level C6-7, and the second was at the level C4-6. His alleged medical expenses were $326,136. He also lost 10 weeks of work as a Teamsters union truck driver.

The defendant McVeigh admitted negligence but contested the nature and extent of Ermel’s injuries. The defendant contended that Ermel suffered only soft tissue strains, which resolved within 4 months. It was also argued that there was a 9-month treatment gap before Ermel sought further medical care, that he continued working full time and raced a stock car during this 9-month period and that there were no recorded complaints of neurological symptoms in his medical records until 1½ years after the accident.

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