Jury awards Collinsville woman $82K following two-car accident

Christina Stueve Sep. 22, 2011, 5:14am




Jurors in Madison County awarded Betty Weckmann of Collinsville more than $82,000 following a two-day trial over a car accident on March 23, 2007, involving Dorothy Bonn, also of Collinsville.

"We're glad it's over. It's been a strain on everyone," said Weckmann's husband, Clark Weckmann, after the trial.

"I want my life back," Betty Weckmann said.

Weckmann, 58, sued Bonn, 89, seeking damages of $325,000 after Bonn rear-ended Weckmann on northbound Illinois Route 157 in Glen Carbon.

Bonn did not appear in court during the proceedings set before Judge David A. Hylla, but was represented by James Hodges of Edwardsville.

Weckmann was represented by Mark D. Hassakis and Joshua Humbrecht of Mount Vernon.

"We were glad the verdict came back in our favor," Hassakis said. "It's been a long, hard battle. I'm sure the insurance company did not make money on the case.

"The verdict vindicated Betty for the wrongdoing and the injuries she suffered."

Weckmann was awarded $82,650. Of that amount, $69,828 was for past and future medical expenses, $7,822 was awarded for wages lost, and $5,000 was awarded for past and future pain and suffering.

During the proceedings, Weckmann claimed Bonn violated simple safety rules while driving her 1995 Ford.

Humbrecht said Weckmann sought compensation for harms and losses incurred due to the accident. The papers filed in court said Bonn operated her vehicle at a speed too fast for conditions and followed the vehicle more closely than was reasonable.

She also allegedly failed to stop her vehicle in time to avoid the collision.

Weckmann's attorney claims the verdict money would help fix and make up for harms and losses.

"The verdict money will help fix the financial losses, pain and loss of life and the wages lost while out of work," Humbrecht said. After medical treatment, Humbrecht said, "Betty is getting her life back."

Weckmann's husband, Clark Weckmann, was also named in the suit. He alleged suffering the loss of services of his wife, prior to her injuries.

Hodges said before the accident, Bonn had been driving two to three miles over the 45 mile per hour speed limit. She slowed down and saw that she had bumped into the rear of Weckmann's vehicle.

Officer Andrew Parker from the Glen Carbon Police Department testified in court that he was the original officer who arrived at the scene and that the vehicles were parked off the road when he arrived.

Parker spoke to Weckmann who said her neck was numb, and said she had felt more than one impact from the other vehicle.

Parker said that Weckmann did nothing to contribute to the collision. He did not notice any visible damage or pain transfer from one vehicle to the next.

Bonn's testimony was shown by video in court. At the time of the accident, she was driving from Collinsville to her retirement center, Meridian Village, and wanted to get back as soon as she could. She said she thought she was "quite a ways back from the other car." She said she remembered only one impact. She testified that at some point, she saw that she would not be able to slow down before striking the other vehicle.

"I hit my breaks and was unable to stop before I hit her," Bonn said.

The testimony of Dr. Nicholas E. Poulous was shown in court by video. Poulous, a neurosurgeon, specializes in repair of the brain, neck and spine. He said Weckmann had two degenerated neck discs. They tried neuropathic medicines to control symptoms and avoid surgery, but she wound up having surgery in September 2009.

The jurors listened to the testimony of more than one doctor in the courtroom. They also had a chance to look at the vehicle involved. The responsibility of deciding which party had a better case was left for them to decide, and they did. The verdict was reached Wednesday afternoon.

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