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How an Injured Illinois Pedestrian’s $9M Jury Verdict Survived After an Appeal

| Jan 30, 2018 | Automobile Accidents |

Accidents that involve pedestrians and buses can often have catastrophic results. The injuries an accident causes can be dramatically life-altering. In these cases, as with any case, it is important to make sure that your case focuses on all of the details, factual and legal, great and small, from expert witnesses to the instructions a judge gives the jury before they start deliberating. An experienced Illinois pedestrian accident attorney can give you the help you need in making sure your I’s are dotted and T’s crossed.

One recent case in which the detail of jury instruction content was vitally important was the case of a woman named Patricia, who was struck by a bus in Champaign. The February 2015 accident caused such profound damage to the woman’s legs that doctors had to amputate. These types of accidents often require large damages awards to compensate the injured person, since the injuries suffered frequently alter almost every aspect of the injured person’s life. It may alter the course of the injured person’s employment, marriage, family relationships, hobbies and activities, and more.

The pedestrian sued for the damages caused by her severe injuries. At trial, the mass transit district conceded that it was negligent, which meant that the only issue the jury had to resolve in the case was damages. After its conclusion, the jury awarded Patricia more than $9 million.

The mass transit district appealed, but it lost. The central focus of the mass transit district’s appeal was the jury instruction that the judge gave prior to the jury beginning deliberations on damages. Even in a case that is only about damages, making sure that the correct jury instruction is used is a vital part of your case. The instructions a judge gives a jury will be one of the most important things they hear before they deliberate and decide your case. It is important to make sure that any instruction given will not do anything to harm your case unfairly.

The appellate court concluded that the instructions the judge gave the jury were not unfair to the mass transit district. While it was true that the district had conceded liability, and it was also true that the instruction given to the jury regarding the district’s having already been found liable did not mention that concession, this was not something that required altering what the jury decided. The rules require that jury instructions be accurate. The instruction used in this case was accurate, since the trial court had already found the mass transit district liable, and the absence of a reference to how that liability was established (the district’s concession) did not somehow make the instruction inaccurate. While an acknowledgement of the defendant’s concession might have made it look more sympathetic to the jury, juries are supposed to decide based upon the evidence, and sympathy is not supposed to play a role.

Another vital element is ensuring that you pursue all of the types of damages to which you are entitled. In this case, the pedestrian succeeded in getting an instruction before the jury that allowed for an award for emotional distress and one for pain and suffering. (The jury awarded Patricia $1 million and $1.5 million, respectively.) The district contested this part of the award on appeal, arguing that the two were duplicative. The appeals court rejected that argument and allowed the full award to stand.

If you have been hurt in a vehicle accident, you need attorneys who have the knowledge and experience to give your case the compelling content and persuasiveness it needs for success. The skilled Chicago pedestrian accident attorneys at Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca have been helping injured people for many years. To set up a free case evaluation, contact us at 312-724-5846 or through our website.

More Blog Posts:

Pedestrian Injured by Chicago Bus Obtains $6 Million Settlement in Her Personal Injury Case, Chicago Injury Attorneys Blog, Dec. 5, 2017

Woman Hit By Champaign City Bus Obtains $9M Injury Verdict Award,
Chicago Injury Attorneys Blog, March 15, 2017