Illinois Appeals Court Affirms Judgment and $1.8M Damages Award for Family of Deceased Bicyclist

city bicyclistIn a personal injury case, you’ll likely need a variety of types of evidence to support your claims. This might include expert opinions, eyewitness testimony, document evidence, and photographic evidence. In the recent wrongful death case of a Chicago-area bicyclist, the bicyclist’s family had all of these things. With this substantial evidence backing up the plaintiffs’ case, the Illinois Appellate Court ruled that the trial court was not unreasonable in finding for the plaintiffs and awarding $1.875 million in damages.

The tragic events that ended the bicyclist’s life took place in the spring of 2011 in Oak Lawn. The bicyclist was traveling through an area that included a strip mall that had been damaged in a fire six months earlier. After the bicyclist jumped a curb, his bicycle wobbled as he slowed, and he extended his arm for balance, reaching out for a plate glass window in the storefront of a fire-damaged boutique. Instead of steadying the man, the plate glass window collapsed, and the man fell through the broken glass. One large piece cut deeply into his leg, and the man died from the blood loss.

The man’s family sued the company that had been doing repair and remediation for the boutique, alleging claims for wrongful death and premises liability. The defendant had contracted with the boutique owner to do demolition and cleanup of the interior of the boutique space.

The family secured the testimony of an eyewitness, who stated that the deceased bicyclist appeared to be steadying himself by lightly placing his hand against the glass window, and he did not appear to crash into the glass. The family also had two expert witnesses who opined about the dangerousness of the plate glass window through which the bicyclist fell.

At the conclusion of the trial, the court found for the family. The court determined that the storefront had two plate glass windows, one of which had multiple BB holes in it. In addition to the BB holes, there were also cracks in the glass. To support their version of events, the family had photographic evidence showing the cracks. The family also had documentation that demonstrated the scope of work that the defendant was contracted to do inside the boutique. All of this, when added together, presented a credible evidentiary picture that the window was structurally compromised by cracks and that the demolition work the defendant had done inside the store had caused those cracks.

The trial court assessed damages at $2.5 million and found the bicyclist 25% at fault. This meant that the final judgment for the family was $1.875 million.

The defendant appealed but was unsuccessful. Many of the defendant’s arguments on appeal asserted that the findings of the trial court were against the “manifest weight of the evidence.” The appeals court rejected all of these. The family had the eyewitness’ testimony, which the trial court found believable. The family also had sound expert testimony, documentary evidence, and photographic evidence. All of this created a credible case, which meant that it was not unreasonable for the trial court to rule for the family.

After the death of a loved one, it is always a difficult time for family and friends. Nevertheless, if that death was due to the negligence or misconduct of another party, the situation still requires prompt attention and action. To help you in navigating the legal system during this stressful time, contact the experienced Chicago wrongful death attorneys at Katz, Friedman, Eagle, Eisenstein, Johnson & Bareck. Our team has been representing loved ones in wrongful death actions for many years and knows what it takes to handle these matters. To set up a free case evaluation, contact us at 800-444-1525 or through our website.

More Blog Posts:

Two Chicago-Area Bicyclists Win Appeals in Riding Trail Injury Cases, Chicago Injury Attorneys Blog, May 2, 2017

Family Sues After Student with Special Needs Drowns in Chicago High School Pool, Chicago Injury Attorneys Blog, April 14, 2017