Settlement Reached in Chicago Brain Injury Case
Chicago, IL (Law Firm Newswire) January 25, 2013 – The City of Chicago has reached a major personal injury law settlement.
The City of Chicago has agreed to pay $6.25 million to settle a lawsuit brought by a man who suffered severe brain damage when a drunk city worker drove a pickup truck into a group of pedestrians on a sidewalk in Gold Coast last year.
“This tragedy may have been prevented if the driver had undergone random alcohol testing,” said Chicago personal injury attorney Robert Briskman, who is not involved in the case. “In order to prevent a repeat of this accident, the city should take stricter measures to monitor the behavior of workers who drive vehicles on the job.”
Richard Chang, the recipient of the settlement, sustained the worst injuries of the seven people who were struck by Dwight Washington's truck on a Saturday afternoon in May, 2011. His brain injuries forced him to relearn how to walk and talk, and he still requires expensive medical care.
Washington was working as a laborer for the Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation and was on the job at the time of the accident. His blood alcohol level was over twice the legal limit, and an open liquor bottle was in the passenger seat next to him. Witnesses told police that the truck was accelerating as Washington drove it over the curb on Cedar Street near the corner of Rush Street.
Five of the seven injured pedestrians filed suit against the city and Washington. All but Chang's are still pending.
In the wake of the accident, Mayor Rahm Emanuel directed Tom Byrne, then-Commissioner of the Department of Streets and Sanitation, to increase supervision to avoid a repeat of the incident.
At the time, Washington was already undergoing termination proceedings, but Emanuel said it would take more than firing him to account for the tragedy. Byrne responded by saying that Streets and Sanitation should implement a random alcohol and drug testing program similar to those in effect at the city's police and fire departments.
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