Car Strikes Delivery Man’s Hand Because Bushes Blocked His View ($1.19 Million)

A 58-year-old Local 179 Union Teamster was awarded $1,195,997 in damages from a jury after suffering a severe arthritic condition which resulted from a work-related accident.

The Case

The Teamster was making a routine delivery to Hoffman Estates, owned by Stonegate Properties. The pathway leading back to his truck required him to navigate a large, poorly maintained curbside hedge that blocked his view into the street. As he reached out to pull the untrimmed hedge back and check for oncoming traffic, his hand was struck by a passing car.

The impact to the teamster’s hand ignited a severe arthritic condition that he had been unaware of before the incident. He had never experienced pain, difficulty or limitations in the use of his hand before the trauma occurred. He endured surgery to fuse the bones at his wrist. This caused him to have limited range of motion in his wrist and weak wrist control, making it impossible for him to continue safely driving large rigs with manual shift mechanisms.

In-Depth Look

The opposing counsel voiced lessons of our youth, that one should always look both ways before entering the street. If the Teamster had the ability to do so without having to respond to the obstruction that hung adjacent to the road, he would still have his career and the benefits that came with it.

Attorneys for the defendant argued that the Teamster had a preexisting condition that limited their liability for his suffering, dismissing the fact that such a condition had never been previously diagnosed or treated nor had caused him any problem until after the trauma occurred.

They argued further that the teamster did not make any attempt to go back to work driving a semi-truck, evidence of laziness a desire to recover. Quite the contrary, the plaintiff chose not to drive, given his lack of wrist control, in order to prevent any clear and present danger to the public.

Justice for the Teamster did not come easy; this case had layers of liability. Those responsible included the driver of the car who struck the plaintiff (who possessed only $20,000 of coverage, far less than what would even begin to cover the medical costs) and the landscaping firm contracted to maintain the hedges.

The Teamster’s first attorney settled out of court with the landscaping firm for a nominal $13,000, also far less than what it would take to make this hardworking man whole. Frustrated, the Teamster changed attorneys and sought representation from Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates whose attorneys who are known for their experience and expertise on the labor front.

Horwitz attorneys, Valerie Barich, Jay Luchsinger, and Clifford Horwitz began preparing for the trial against the remaining and most difficult party involved, the property owner. “Had the insurance company been willing to compensate our client in a manner consistent with his injuries and loss of career, he was certainly ready to end the nightmare and settle,” said Valerie Barich.

However, the slew of corporate attorneys for Great Northern Insurance refused every effort to negotiate in good faith and reach a settlement. Instead, they dragged the case out, blaming the driver of the car for coming too close to the curb, the landscaper for not doing a better job, and ultimately, the Teamster for failing to look through trees.

For years, and throughout presenting testimony before a Cook County jury for over a week, they refused to acknowledge the responsibility of the property owner for the conditions of their property and their role in the subsequent injury of someone as a result.

The jury rejected the arrogance of the attorneys and found the corporate landlord/property owner to be negligent and the insurance company liable for an award totaling $1,195,997 in damages, including medical costs, loss of wages and career, and pain and suffering.

“People need to understand that justice could have occurred years ago if corporations and insurance companies had the best interest of those who are injured at heart,” Jay Luchsinger explains, adding, “It’s our job to hold them accountable.”