Illinois Appellate Court Upholds $1,000 Judgment in Cervical Injury Car Accident Claim Involving Pre-Existing Injury

The facts of a recent and relevant case involving an Illinois car accident illustrate how courts address the question of pre-existing injuries in personal injury claims. The plaintiff was driving her vehicle in rush hour traffic when the car behind her struck her vehicle. This caused the plaintiff’s vehicle to strike the car immediately ahead of his vehicle. The plaintiff reported that the impact caused her knee to strike the dashboard and that the impact jerked her backward and forward. The plaintiff was taken to a nearby hospital in an ambulance where she indicated neck, arm, and back pain. During the proceeding months, the plaintiff received treatment for her injuries. Her treating doctor concluded that she suffered a cervical strain, forearm strain, back strain, and arm strain. The plaintiff was prescribed painkillers and physical therapy for her treatment.

Several months later, the plaintiff was diagnosed with a pinched nerve in the cervical region that was attributed to the crash. The plaintiff saw a specialist next who conducted an MRI and ordered specialized physical therapy to treat the plaintiff’s multiple cervical abnormalities.

The plaintiff filed a civil action against the driver who struck her vehicle seeking reimbursement for her medical bills as well as damages for her pain and suffering. The plaintiff’s expert witnesses at trial testified regarding the plaintiff’s course of treatment and diagnoses. The defendant’s expert witnesses testified that the plaintiff had reported experiencing pain the affected region of her body prior to the accident and that the treatments that she received were, in their opinion, not necessary.

The jury found in favor of the plaintiff but awarded her only $1,000 for her medical expenses and awarded no damages for her pain and suffering. The plaintiff appealed, stating that the jury failed to take into consideration the proven elements of her damages. More specifically, the plaintiff claimed that the defendant’s experts testified that her injury was caused by the collision and that her emergency medical treatment was necessary. She also pointed out on appeal that expert also testified that some of her medical treatments were reasonable and necessary.

The appellate court rejected the plaintiff’s arguments, concluding that there were disputes regarding causation and the extent of the plaintiff’s damages. These issues were not proven damages as the plaintiff described them. The appellate court reiterated the longstanding principle that the jury is the decider of fact in a lawsuit and that they have the power to decide the credibility of each witness and to assess the evidence in their testimony accordingly. Applied here, the court concluded that the jury verdict was not unreasonable given the plaintiff’s failure to testify regarding her history of right arm pain when she reported to the emergency room after the accident.

If you were injured in a car accident, you can bring a negligence action against the person who caused the crash to recover compensation for your medical expenses and damages. Civil claims are complicated and there are many rules that you must follow in order to protect your right to compensation. At Therman Law Offices, our dedicated and knowledgeable team of personal injury lawyers will assist you with all phases of your case, including gathering evidence and preparing your itemization of damages. To schedule your free consultation call us now at 773-545-8849 or contact us online.

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