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Hip, spinal injuries caused by multiple impact crash: plaintiff

Amount:

$825,000

Type:

Settlement

State:

Illinois

Venue:

Cook County

Court:

Cook County Circuit Court

Injury Type(s):

hip-hip replacement; leg-limp; back-fusion, lumbar;
back-spondylolisthesis; back-bulging disc, lumbar;
neck-sprain, cervical;
neck-strain, cervical;
neck-spondylolisthesis; chest-fracture, rib;
other-soft tissue; other-massage therapy; other-physical therapy; other-epidural injections; other-scar and/or disfigurement; other-degenerative joint disease; epidermis-contusion; hand/finger-finger; surgeries/treatment-decompression surgery

Case Type:

Motor Vehicle – Rear-ender, Multiple Impact, Multiple Vehicle

Case Name:

Diane Edelhauser and Ronald Edelhauser v. Josef Matuschka,
No. 15-L-013117

Date:

March 30, 2018

Parties

Plaintiff(s):

Diane Edelhauser (Female, 58 Years), 

Ronald Edelhauser

Plaintiff Attorney(s):

James J. Roche;
James J. Roche & Associates;
Chicago,
IL,
for
Diane Edelhauser, Ronald Edelhauser ■ Lauren A. Rozich;
Rozich Law Group, LLC;
Chicago,
IL,
for
Diane Edelhauser, Ronald Edelhauser

Plaintiff Expert(s):

Blair Rhode; M.D.; Orthopedic Surgery; Orland Park,
IL called by:
James J. Roche, Lauren A. Rozich

Defendant(s):

Josef Matuschka

Defense Attorney(s):

Ray Fabricius;
Fabricius & Lindig;
Ottawa,
IL,
for
Josef Matuschka ■ David M. Dolendi;
Hinkhouse Williams Walsh LLP;
Chicago,
IL,
for
Josef Matuschka

Defendant Expert(s):

Sheldon Lazar;
Neurosurgery;
Skokie,
IL called by:
Ray Fabricius ■ William Hopkinson;
Orthopedic Surgery;
Maywood,
IL called by:
Ray Fabricius

Insurer(s):

Progressive Casualty Insurance Co. primary insurer
American Alternative Insurance Corp. excess

Facts:

On March 8, 2014, plaintiff Diane Edelhauser, 58, a cashier and a black jack dealer, was operating a vehicle south on River Road near the Interstate 190 exit ramp in Rosemont. She was stopped in traffic when her SUV was rear-ended by another SUV driven by Josef Matuschka. The impact pushed Edelhauser’s vehicle into the rear of the vehicle stopped in front of her. Edelhauser claimed neck, back and hip injuries. Edelhauser sued Matuschka, alleging that Matuschka was negligent in the operation of a vehicle. Edelhauser alleged that Matuschka failed to keep a proper lookout. She also argued that Matuschka failed to maintain a safe distance. Matuschka did not stipulate to or contest liability.

Injury:

A few days after the accident, Edelhauser presented to her primary care physician with complaints of pain to her neck, left-sided ribs and left little finger of her non-dominant hand. She underwent X-rays and was diagnosed with rib fractures and a contusion to her little finger. She was also diagnosed with a cervical strain and sprain. Edelhauser began physical therapy for her neck, which included massage and exercise and went through May 2014. Her rib and finger injuries later resolved. Edelhauser alleged that she began experiencing lower back pain in June 2014. She underwent an MRI and was diagnosed with bulging at intervertebral disc L3-4 and spondylolisthesis. She underwent a series of epidural injections. In September 2014, Edelhauser underwent fusion and decompression at L3-4. Following the surgery, she treated with physical therapy through January 2015. Her treatment included massage and exercise. According to Edelhauser, by the end of 2014, she started to experience right hip pain. She underwent diagnostic testing and was diagnosed with an aggravation of degenerative joint disease in her right hip. In May 2015, she underwent a hip replacement. She then treated with eight and a half weeks of physical therapy. By July 2015, she stopped treating altogether. Edelhauser’s surgeon opined that the rapid deterioration in her hip joint, which was confirmed in radiographic studies, suggested that her hip injury was traumatically induced. Edelhauser’s expert in orthopedic surgery causally related Edelhauser’s injuries and treatment to the accident. The physician determined that Edelhauser had suffered permanent hip and back injuries. According to the expert, since hip replacements only last so long, Edelhauser will likely need a revision or a second hip surgery. Edelhauser alleged that she walks with an impaired gait as a result of the hip replacement since her right leg is shorter than her left leg. She said this requires her to wear a shoe lift. She also claimed she is unable to walk long distances as she had before the subject accident and is unable to sit for long periods. Edelhauser sought $390,763.63 in past medical costs, plus an unknown sum for future medical costs. She also sought damages for lost wages, past and future pain and suffering, loss of normal life and disfigurement. Her husband sought damages for loss of consortium. The defense’s experts in orthopedic surgery and neurosurgery, who reviewed Edelhauser’s medical records, determined that the alleged back and hip injuries were unrelated to the accident. The experts cited the months-long delay in onset of symptoms and opined that, had Edelhauser suffered back and hip injuries from the accident, she would have immediately experienced symptoms. The experts attributed her symptoms to pre-existing, degenerative conditions.

Result:

The parties negotiated a pretrial settlement of $825,000, paid by Matuschka’s excess carrier from a $1 million policy. Matuschka’s primary carrier, which had $500,000 of coverage, did not contribute to the settlement.

Trial Information:

Post Trial:

At the time of publication, Matuschka’s excess carrier was seeking to file a subrogation action against the primary carrier.

Editor’s Comment:

This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiff’s and defense counsel.