Each Chicago brain injury lawyer at our firm knows that the single most common way that local residents suffer a traumatic brain injury is following an automobile accident. Many children suffer injury while playing youth sports, military members face trauma from bomb blasts while at war, and many seniors have head accidents after a slip and fall. While those causes are certainly prevalent, the single most likely way that a local resident may experience brain trauma is following a car, truck, or motorcycle accident.
This is not all that surprising considering that automobile accidents remain that most common preventable accident of any kind. Car accidents are often the root of most Illinois brain injury lawsuits as well. This is because most car accidents can be traced back to negligence on the part of another party in one way or another. Obviously the bomb blasts which hurt our service members overseas are acts of intentional misconduct, but those injuries don’t actually result in civil lawsuits seeking to recoup the victims for their losses. Conversely, when two cars collide, one malfunctions, roadways are not properly maintained, or similar misconduct takes place, the law provides victims of the accidents an avenue to seek redress.
The Insurance Journal reported this week on a recent settlement made following just such a car accident that resulted in a traumatic brain injury. In the case a young man, 18-years old at the time, suffered a permanent and debilitating brain injury after the car in which he was driving was slammed into by another speeding vehicle. It turns out that the speeding car was actually driven by a sheriff’s deputy who was speeding because he was late for work. The man suffered a traumatic brain injury and will need around-the-clock care for the rest of his life. Following the accident the man’s family filed a lawsuit against the driver and the county sheriff’s office seeking compensation for the immense harm.
The case is also an example of the extreme injustice of the bizarre tort reform laws that exist in the state where the accident occurred. The laws of the state (Florida) at the time placed a limit of $100,000 on compensation. That amount was nowhere near sufficient to provide the victim the close care and attention he will need for the rest of his life as a result of the accident-it wouldn’t even cover medical bills from the immediate aftermath of the accident.
However, the only way for the family to receive a fair award is for special legislation to be passed through both chambers of the state’s legislature. That process involves the hiring of lobbyists, the introduction of specific bills, and a wide range of political arguments. The family recently agreed to a $10.75 million settlement with the sheriff’s office’s insurer. However, it remains unclear if the family will receive the settlement money. The bill authorizing the award still has to pass the state house.
It should be noted that this accident actually occurred fourteen years ago. The family has been fighting for compensation for that entire time. What makes it even more ridiculous is that fact that while a bill is required to pass through the state legislature, the state taxpayers will not be paying for a dime of this payment. Instead, the insurer is obligated to pay as per the terms of the insurance agreement. It is unclear how anyone could view this drawn-out, lobbyist-filled process as somehow superior to one where the justice system actually makes a decision upon the guidance of impartial judges and juries.
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