Chicago Student Paralyzed by Falling Airport Shelter Receives $148M Judgment

Any injury can be serious and can involve a long-term period of care and treatment. However, when you are a young person, and the injury you suffer is catastrophic, the totality of the harm you’ve suffered is magnified that much more. Your injury may mean many decades of extensive or even full-time care, at a total cost of an astronomical amount. If you have suffered a major injury, you need to contact a skilled Illinois injury attorney right away, who can work for you to pursue everything that you deserve so that your needs are fully met.

A recent example of a catastrophic injury to a young person took place at O’Hare Airport. Tierney was a 24-year-old college student whose great love was dance. One summer in 2015, Tierney, her mother, and her sister were returning to Chicago following a trip to Minneapolis. As they waited under a shelter near O’Hare’s Terminal 2, a storm rolled in, and, in the wind, the 700+-pound shelter collapsed onto Tierney. The impact severed her spinal cord and left her paralyzed from the waist down, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune.

In cases like this, there may be two parts to your trial:  proving the defendant’s negligence and then proving the extent of the damages you deserve to receive. At other times, though, a defendant may simply admit liability, leaving solely the issue of damages for the jury to decide.

One reason why a defendant might choose simply to admit liability would be because, if it thinks that it is likely to lose on the issue of liability anyway, admitting liability may help to keep out certain evidence related to its actions or inaction that led up to the accident. When that happens, it is important to have counsel who can approach your case skillfully in order to make sure that the jury gets as complete a picture as possible regarding your case.

That was an element of Tierney’s case. She sued the city. According to Tierney’s lawyers, an “investigation later found other shelters at O’Hare were poorly maintained, with missing bolts, corroded parts or broken brackets.” By admitting liability, the city was able to avoid having some of this information come in at trial. The injured woman’s lawyers simply told the jury that they could not tell the jury why the shelter collapsed, but “circumstances are so obvious they admitted it,” the Tribune reported.

It is also important that the jury understand fully the devastating effect of your injury and just how extensive your care needs will be in the aftermath of your catastrophic accident. Catastrophic injuries, including ones that cause paralysis in young people, often mean many decades of medical treatment, rehab, and pain management, in addition to the nursing care needed to help with activities that you, as a paralyzed person, can no longer do for yourself. In a place like Chicago, where Tierney lived, the cost of these expenses could potentially be exceptionally expensive.

The Cook County jury in Tierney’s case took all of this into account and ordered the city to pay a judgment of $148 million. The amount was greater than any previous personal injury award against the City of Chicago, according to the Tribune.

If you have suffered major injuries in an accident, don’t hesitate. Reach out to the Chicago injury attorneys at Katz, Friedman, Eagle, Eisenstein, Johnson & Bareck. Our attorneys have been helping injured people use the legal system to pursue the fair recovery they deserve. To set up a free case evaluation, contact us at 800-444-1525 or through our website.

More Blog Posts:

Illinois Appellate Court Upholds $25 Million Settlement for Man Catastrophically Injured in a Fall, Chicago Injury Attorneys Blog, Dec. 18, 2017

Cook County Jury Awards $115 Million to Trio of Flight Crew Members Killed Transporting Military Vehicles, Chicago Injury Attorneys Blog, Nov. 28, 2017