Northwest Indiana Jury Awards $16.5 to Motorist Injured by Distracted Truck Driver
On April 12, 2018 a jury delivered an very favorable verdict to an injured motorist after two hours of deliberation. The case stemmed from an accident on the morning of March 7, 2015, when John Binkowski was stopped at a southbound red light on County Road 500 North. Vincent Holland was travelling behind Binkowski in a large 18-wheeled truck and was text messaging on his phone. Because Holland was distracted and driving 65 mph, he did not notice Binkowski's car stopped ahead of him until he was just two car lengths away. Holland tried to stop and slammed on his brakes but still smashed into the back of Binkowski’s vehicle. Binkowski and his vehicle were forced through the intersection as the result of the impact.
Binkowski, then only 22 years-old, had to be extricated from his vehicle and flown by helicopter to a local hospital.Binkowski filed suit against both Holland, the truck driver, and Grand Island Express, Inc., a Nebraska corporation that employed Holland. Binkowski looked to settle the case, but both Holland and Grand Island Express declined. The case then proceeded to trial. The attorney for Grand Island Express argued that Binkowski was asking for too much money and that Binkowski was back at work soon after the crash and therefore the injuries suffered by Binkowski could not be too serious.
At trial, Binkowski testified he has undergone 15 surgeries and continues to undergo physical and cognitive therapy. Binkowski also testified that he suffers from ongoing neck pain and occasional double vision depending on the way he moves his head. Binkowski testified that he had to leave the Army National Guard and end his lifetime ambition of military service because of his injuries he suffered in the crash. Binkowski also stated that his injuries ended his pursuit of a career in police work or as a railroad conductor.
The jury found Binkowski’s testimony to be persuasive. The damages awarded to Binkowski include $9.5 million for loss of enjoyment of life and his injuries, plus $500,000 from the driver and $6.5 million from Grand Island Express Inc., of Nebraska, for punitive damages.