One afternoon in early May 2009, our client was driving through heavy rain on U.S. Highway 12 in Richmond, Illinois, just across the Wisconsin border. Another driver pulled into his path from a stop sign and caused a collision, injuring him. Both drivers were Wisconsin residents.
After pre-suit settlement discussions quickly reached an impasse with a top offer of merely $35,000, Attorney Tim Schelwat of Hupy and Abraham in Milwaukee filed a lawsuit in Kenosha County Circuit Court.
The defense contested liability, arguing that their at-fault driver had been unable to see the plaintiff’s vehicle approaching the intersection because of the weather conditions and that our client may have been operating without his headlights on, in violation of an Illinois statute that requires headlights to be illuminated when one’s windshield wipers are activated. There was also conflicting testimony in regards to the intensity of the rainfall at the time of the collision as compared to both before and immediately after the accident.
The defense further disputed the majority of asserted damages on the basis that our client had previously been in another collision in April 2008, which ultimately resulted in a two-level cervical discectomy and fusion in December 2008. Although he had been on light duty restrictions since April 2008 and up until the time of the May 2009 collision, our client had been making an excellent recovery following his surgery. His doctor even testified that he had anticipated releasing him to work as a heavy equipment operator without restrictions in late May. Of course; that never happened as a result of the second collision.
According to both our plaintiff’s medical expert, Thomas Perlewitz, and the doctor who performed the insurance medical examination, Dr. Charles Klein, he sustained cervical sprains or strains in the May of 2009 collision. The defense stipulated to just under $25,000 in past medical expenses.
The jury deliberated for only 30 minutes before returning a verdict covering:
- The aforementioned medical expenses
- An award for our client's loss of earning capacity, valued at $262,000
- An award for past and future pain and suffering, valued at an additional $50,000
With respect to liability, jury members found the defendant 90 percent causally negligent and attributed 10 percent to the plaintiff. The defense attorney was Dick Schmidt.