Illinois Pedestrian’s $897K Damages Award Survives Taxi Cab Company’s Appeal

In your pedestrian injury case, you’ll need many things to give yourself a strong chance of success. One of these things is an experienced Illinois car accident attorney, who understands the facts of your case, the law in Illinois, and how to present your case in a way that holds liable all those who are responsible. In a recent case involving a nurse struck by a cab driver, the Illinois Appellate Court upheld an $897,000 verdict that found the cabbie negligent for hitting the plaintiff and the cabbie’s employer liable for its “willful and wanton” conduct in failing to do a better job vetting the driver before hiring him.

Margaret, the plaintiff, was a woman who worked as a psychiatric nurse at a hospital in suburban Chicago. On her way to work one day in 2011, a taxi cab driver hit her. The driver was driving slowly but still managed to knock the woman all the way to the ground. The impact caused the woman to suffer significant damage to her left shoulder. This damage included rotator cuff tendinopathy and glenoid labral tear/shredding. Despite years of physical therapy, Margaret’s doctor diagnosed the problem as permanent and something that “will likely cause her pain and restrict some activities for the rest of her life.”

With a personal injury case, such as a pedestrian-versus-vehicle accident, the plaintiff’s case may often revolve around demonstrating that the defendant driver was negligent and, if that driver was working when the accident occurred, that the employer is vicariously liable for the driver’s negligence. Depending on the facts of your case, though, this may not be the only way to pursue recovery for your damages.

In the nurse’s case, she sued the taxi driver for negligence, and she sued his employer for “willful and wanton entrustment.” The latter claim was that the company was willful or wanton in ever employing the driver. The driver’s out-of-state driving record included a conviction for DUI and a ticket for speeding at 85 miles per hour. The plaintiff’s contention at trial was that the company should have checked the driver’s driving record, that the company recklessly did not check the driver’s driving record, and that, because of that reckless failure, the company gave a cab to a driver whom it never should have hired. The nurse had an expert witness who testified in the trial that the company “at minimum, was obligated to perform an additional independent background investigation on” the driver.

The nurse’s approach was successful at trial. The jury found both the driver and the cab company liable. The nurse received $897,000 in damages, which represented $397,000 in compensatory damages and a half-million dollars in punitive damages.

The cab company appealed, but the appeals court upheld the verdict and damages award. The court rejected the company’s argument that it was only required to confirm that the driver had an Illinois driver’s license and a chauffeur’s license. This was not true under Illinois law, according to the court. Instead, the court explained that the determination of conduct as willful or wanton depends on the particular facts of the case, and the pedestrian in this case had ample facts.

If you’ve been injured due to the negligence of others, you need knowledgeable attorneys on your side fighting for you. The experienced Chicago car accident attorneys at Katz, Friedman, Eagle, Eisenstein, Johnson & Bareck have been working to help injured people in Illinois for many years. Whether you were injured at work or injured in a vehicle accident, our team can help you as you pursue those responsible for your damages. To set up a free case evaluation, contact us at 800-444-1525 or through our website.

More Blog Posts:

Illinois Appellate Court Upholds $26M Judgment Against Cab Company, Chicago Injury Attorneys Blog, March 15, 2017

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