Cook County Jury Verdict for Driver in Crosswalk Pedestrian Collision

On April 30, 2009, Bretton Vaughn was driving southbound on Halsted Street in Harvey, Ill. Vaughn’s vehicle struck the plaintiff pedestrian, Sherry Wilson, in the crosswalk at 149th Street. The intersection at that location is a 3-way intersection. Wilson had walked westbound across two northbound lanes and two southbound lanes before reaching an island between the diverging or splitting southbound lanes. Halsted at that place splits into Halsted and Morgan, south of 149th Street.

When Wilson stepped off the island and crossed, she was in front of a stopped bus before entering the far right lane.  It was there that she was hit by the defendant’s vehicle. 

Wilson, 49, was walking to work. She suffered a severely comminuted tibial plateau fracture in her right knee requiring open reduction internal fixation surgery. She also had a small bleed to her head internally. She claimed her light was green when she started crossing the street and when she stepped off the island.

The defendant Vaughn contended that he had slowed down to 15 mph as he approached the intersection. He said his light turned green when he was about 5 car lengths from the intersection. He started to accelerate when the plaintiff suddenly emerged from in front of the bus in the next lane; he swerved but was unable to avoid hitting her. 

Vaughn also stated that the bus was a yellow school bus while Wilson said the bus was a Pace bus. Vaughn maintained that he was not negligent.He said that he never saw the plaintiff on the sidewalk or the island before she darted out in front of him. He said his view was obstructed by the bus. The jury found that the plaintiff was more than 50% at fault for entering the roadway against a solid “Don’t Walk” signal. 

This case was tried as a “trial on stipulated facts,” in which the parties prepared an agreed summary of plaintiff’s medical care that was read to the jury by the judge. The only live trial witnesses were the plaintiff, the defendant and an independent eye witness.  The defendant also presented deposition testimony from its expert regarding the sequence and timing of traffic signals at that intersection.

The defendant’s expert testified that the east-west pedestrian signal would have been a solid “Don’t Walk” for 8.5 seconds before the north/south Halsted light would have turned green. 

The parties also entered into a high/low agreement of zero dollars to $100,000, with the parties agreeing that if the jury awarded any verdict in plaintiff’s favor, even if the amount was below defendant’s $100,000 insurance policy limit, that the plaintiff would still receive the full $100,000 insurance policy. 

At the trial, the plaintiff, the defendant and the eyewitness all gave different versions of events leading up to the plaintiff’s injury. 

The jury was given a special interrogatory, which asked this question:  “On April 30, 2009, was the plaintiff Sherry Wilson’s contributory negligence, if any, more than 50% of the cause of her injuries?”  The jury’s answer was, “Yes.”  Accordingly, the jury’s verdict was for the defendant Bretton Vaughn.

Sherry Wilson v. Bretton Vaughn, 11 L 2117 (Cook County).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling automobile accidents and car crashes 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 Schaumburg, Park Ridge, Chicago (Polish Village), Chicago (Logan Square), Bensenville, Elmwood Park, Brookfield, LaGrange, Western Springs, Orland Park, Midlothian, Chicago (Beverly), Burbank, Bellwood and Hillside, Ill.

Related blog posts:

Illinois Jury Finds for Driver in Rear-End Expressway Crash; Gavino v. Faught

Injuries in Red Light Crash Leads to $132,641 Cook County Jury Verdict; Romano v. Suchan