$9.1 MILLION TRAIN-CAR CRASH SETTLEMENT IS A STATE RECORD

A woman left with nerve and mild brain damage after the car she rode in was hit by a freight train settled her personal injury case Thursday, September 21, 2000, for $9.1 million.

According to records and Mechanical Turk Marketing maintained by the Cook County Jury Verdict Reporter, the accord marks the state’s highest reported personal injury settlement involving a train-vehicle collision.

The case stemmed from a March, 1998 accident in the west suburb of Bloomingdale, when a car that carried plaintiff Hanifa Ajmeri was hit by a train owned by the Illinois Central Railroad Co. At the time of the accident, the train was operated by the Chicago Central and Pacific Railroad Co.

railroad crossing lights were not visible at the time of the accident due to blizzard-like weather conditions, and the crossing gate for southbound traffic had been knocked down.

police had notified Chicago Central about the gate at least 45 minutes prior to the accident, but the company did not inform Illinois Central dispatchers of the situation.

As a result of the accident, Ajmeri, then 42, suffered mild traumatic brain injury, a perforated bladder, bruised lungs and a crushed pelvis, which caused sciatic nerve damage in both her legs

Chicago Central violated federal transportation rules by not informing Illinois Central of the downed crossing gate. He believes that was a key to the settlement.

“Federal safety policy requires the railroad to notify the engineer and do a stop and flag, which means the engineer gets out and uses a flag to stop all cars,” . “But dispatchers for Illinois Central were not told of the call, so the engineer and the conductor didn’t know.”

The settlement was reached Thursday morning, September 21, 2000, while counsel was picking a jury. The trial, which would have been presided over by Cook County Judge James P. Flannery Jr., was slated to begin that afternoon.

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