Favorable Settlement Following Total Crush Leg Injury ($9 Million)

Michael Wierzbicki, a partner at Horwitz Horwitz & Associates who focuses on commercial trucking and transportation litigation, negotiated a $9,000,000.00 settlement on behalf of a 68-year-old woman who suffered a lower leg crush injury when a dump truck reversed over her.

The Case

On June 3, 2014, a 68-year-old woman was crossing 47th St. and Western Blvd. while on her way to the grocery store. A dump truck operated by Priority Cartage Inc. reversed and ran over the woman’s leg.

In-Depth Look

On June 3, 2014, a dump truck operated by Priority Cartage Inc. struck an elderly woman walking in the crosswalk at 47th and Western. “This horrible incident could and should have been avoided entirely,” stated Michael T. Wierzbicki, the 68-year-old woman’s attorney and partner at Horwitz Horwitz & Associates.

The City of Chicago had hired a general contractor, Benchmark Construction Co., to install underground water pipes near the intersection of 47th and Western, which required parts of the street to be excavated and then re-paved. Benchmark subcontracted some of the work to another company who then subcontracted that work to Priority Cartage, Inc. On the day of the accident, the driver was turning around because the contractor ordered more gravel than was needed.

“When we dug deeper into the facts, it was clear that the trucking company and its driver were not the only ones at fault,” explained Wierzbicki. At Horwitz Horwitz & Associates, Michael Wierzbicki focuses his practice on commercial trucking and transportation litigation.

Wierzbicki filed the lawsuit on behalf of the elderly woman in Cook County Circuit naming the City of Chicago, Benchmark Construction Co., Menini Cartage Inc., and Priority Cartage Inc., and Trafic Services, Inc. as defendants.

As the investigation of the accident unfolded, Wierzbicki uncovered a number of safety rule violations committed by the construction and trucking companies.

“The defense blamed her for being in a construction site.  There were no cones, fences, or appropriate barricades put up to keep pedestrians out of the construction site – they didn’t even put up signs alerting this was a construction site,” noted Wierzbicki.

“Under the contracts and governing manuals for construction in the public way, Benchmark was supposed to prepare and follow a pedestrian traffic control plan before starting work that interfered with the normal flow of cars and people – this is a basic safety issue.  Benchmark failed to meet this basic safety requirement and the inevitable result was an innocent person got terribly injured,” explained Wierzbicki.

Wierzbicki continued, “The construction company allowed the driver to make a U-turn in the street rather than going around the block. The driver never got out to look behind him before backing.  No spotter was present to guide the driver.  There was no back-up alarm on the truck. And on top of all that, the driver should never have been there in the first place.”

The investigation into the driver’s background raised questions about whether he was who he claimed to be.

“We dug deeper and learned the driver was actually an illegal immigrant who had stolen the identity of a person who was in prison in Puerto Rico when the incident occurred.  A proper background check was never done, as is required by the State and Federal regulations, and would likely have revealed that the driver was not who he said he was and, therefore, was not properly qualified to drive.  He never should have been there,” commented Wierzbicki.

Ultimately, the defendants agreed to a total settlement of $9,000,000.00.

“No amount of money can give her back the walks she went on with her grandchildren, playing with them in the park. But she is thankful that despite her injuries and loss, the defendants were made to pay for their negligence.  She is hopeful they learned a lesson and protect future job sites to protect innocent people from being hurt,” stated Wierzbicki.