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

On Dec. 19, 2010, 38-year-old Paul Romano was driving southbound on Pulaski Street in the City of Chicago when the defendant, Kathleen Suchan, driving eastbound on 87th Street, went through a red light and crashed into the plaintiff’s vehicle. Romano was not treated by paramedics and did not go to the hospital after the crash. However, he went to a chiropractor three days after the incident with complaints of lower back pain in his legs. 

Romano contended that the collision caused a tear in his lower back, which was diagnosed by MRI three weeks after the occurrence. The MRI also showed a moderate degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine. 

The plaintiff was treated with 20 visits at a chiropractor and saw an orthopedic surgeon four times. He had not undergone any treatment for the condition since August 2011. Plaintiff had been hired to start a new job as a personal trainer just before the incident, but was unable to start the job because of his injuries.

The defendant admitted negligence at the trial, but disputed the plaintiff’s injuries. Suchan’s expert orthopedic surgeon testified that the plaintiff suffered at most a lumbar sprain. His annular tear was not caused by the collision and was related to his pre-existing degenerative disc disease, according to the defendant’s expert. Furthermore, the defendant argued that the plaintiff fully recovered from any accident-related injuries within six weeks.

Defendant also maintained any back problems that Romano experienced were related to his history of weightlifting and not the accident. Defendant also claimed that Romano was exaggerating his physical complaints and his lost-wage claim. Defendant argued that the wage claim was speculative because Romano had not yet started his job as a personal trainer. 

Before trial, the demand to settle was $100,000, which was the insurance policy limits. The offer to settle was $12,000 – $17,000, according to the Cook County Jury Verdict Report. At the end of the plaintiff’s case, plaintiff’s counsel, Michael C. Mead, asked the jury to return a verdict of $170,000. The jury’s verdict of $132,641 was made up of the following damages:

  • $50,000 for pain and suffering;
  • $60,000 for loss of normal life;
  • $6,321 for medical expenses;
  • $16,320 for lost earnings.

Paul Romano v. Kathleen Suchan, 11 L 822 (Cook County).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling automobile and truck 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 Hickory Hills, Bridgeview, Justice, Burbank, Chicago (Garfield Ridge), Chicago (Marquette Park), Midlothian, Harvey, Calumet City, LaGrange, Westchester, Oakbrook Terrace, Morton Grove and Algonquin, Ill.

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