Chicago Workers’ Compensation Lawyers & Illinois Injury Lawyers

Keeping Harmful ‘Unsupported Evidence of Phantom Causes’ of Injury out of Your Illinois Personal Injury Lawsuit

| May 29, 2024 | Personal Injury |

Personal injury lawsuits that primarily involve soft-tissue can be particularly challenging. Juries can often grasp and appreciate the level harm that goes with a broken bone or a torn ligament more readily than a soft-tissue injury even though, in reality, soft-tissue injuries can cause extensive damage and have long-lasting or even permanent effects. In many cases, the outcome of the lawsuit may come down to the testimony of the doctors. To enhance your chances of success, it is important to keep inadmissible doctor testimony that could harm your case. For tools for accomplish this and other personal injury litigation goals, be sure you have an experienced Chicago injury lawyer in your corner.

One case that was an example of the great impact doctor testimony can have was the case of a delivery person named S.C. Even though S.C.’s case was a dog-attack injury matter, some of the issues are relevant to other types of personal injury cases.

S.C. was delivering a package to K.A’s home when K.A.’s dog lunged at him. S.C. was allegedly knocked down and injured his back as a result of the accident. In S.C.’s lawsuit, he alleged that he had suffered more than $200,000 in lost wages as a result of his back injury. He also alleged that he had to give up motorcycling, boating and vacationing because of the injury.

At the trial, K.A. sought to cross-examine S.C.’s back specialist. The defense wanted to question S.C.’s doctor about possible other causes of S.C.’s injuries The judge allowed the cross-examination. At the end of the trial, the jury ruled for S.C. but only awarded him $16,000, including $4,000 for lost earnings.

S.C. appealed and secured a new trial on damages. The problem with the cross-examination performed on S.C.’s doctor was that it elicited opinions that had no connection to the actual proof on record in the case.

Illinois courts had already ruled that, without a proper evidentiary foundation, parties should not simply be allowed to float theories before the jury. A defense team should be able to argue that a previous or subsequent injury was the actual cause of a plaintiff’s harm, but only after the defense gave the court enough proof to connect the harm alleged and the alternate injury. Similarly, a defendant should not be allowed to elicit “unsupported evidence of phantom causes of injuries” when the defense lacks proof that any such cause or alternate injury ever happened at all.

In S.C.’s case, the defense asked the doctor about some people whose backs “will just go out for no reason.” The defense also asked about another injury, quizzing as to whether or not it “could be caused by many other factors” besides the dog attack. According to this ruling, that type of cross-examination is not admissible to counter an injured plaintiff’s case unless the defense possesses actual proof of the plaintiff actually having had his back “go out for no reason” or that the man suffered harm from one of those mysterious “other factors.”

If you have been hurt due to someone else’s negligence, you need experienced legal representation that you can depend on. The skilled Chicago injury attorneys at Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca have been effectively representing injury clients for many years and are ready to advocate for you. To set up a free case evaluation, contact us at 312-724-5846 or through our website.

More Blog Posts:

UPS, Teamsters negotiators agree to higher wages, potential Sunday delivery, Chicago Injury Attorneys Blog, June 25, 2018

How ‘Stale’ Medical Evidence Gave One Illinois Man a Second Chance at SSI, Disability Insurance Benefits, Chicago Injury Attorneys Blog, April 23, 2018