CHICAGO — Cavanagh Law Group attorneys Tim Cavanagh and Sean P. Kelly obtained a $575,000 settlement for a woman who required spinal surgery after her vehicle was rear-ended by a semi-truck in La Porte County, Indiana.
Linda Matejcak, 64, was in a car with her husband and grandchildren on Jan. 4, 2018, traveling west on I-80 in Indiana when traffic came to a stop for an unrelated collision. A semi-truck failed to stop and struck Matejcak’s vehicle while moving 5 to 10 mph.
The impact of the collision aggravated Matejcak’s preexisting cervical spinal conditions, which were asymptomatic at the time of the crash. She developed painful symptoms 10 months later and required anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) surgery.
“This situation could have been avoided if the truck driver kept a safe distance and paid attention to changing road conditions,” Cavanagh said. “Semi-trucks are some of the heaviest vehicles on the road. Even though this was a low-speed collision, the impact of a tractor trailer striking our client’s vehicle was enough to aggravate her injuries. Truck drivers have a tremendous responsibility to drive cautiously to protect other motorists.”
Matejcak consulted a physician the day after the crash. She did not immediately present symptoms and was sent home.
But 10 months later, Matejcak began to experience neck pain, shoulder pain and numbness and tingling in her arm. An MRI revealed degenerative changes and spinal stenosis, which doctors determined were exacerbated by the January 2018 crash.
Matejcak was diagnosed with several spinal conditions, including cervical spondylosis, stenosis and radiculopathy. She underwent surgery in June 2019.
A lawsuit filed in the Circuit Court of La Porte County on Dec. 6, 2019, alleged Matejcak’s injuries were the result of negligence by both semi-truck driver Winston Baena and trucking company M&G Trucking and Transportation, Inc., which owned the truck Baena was driving. The case was later transferred to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division, for jurisdictional reasons.
Cavanagh and Kelly obtained a $575,000 settlement on Oct. 30, 2020. Had the case gone to trial, the firm was prepared to present medical experts to testify that Matejcak’s aggravated symptoms were a direct result of the semi-truck crash.
Matejcak is an Illinois resident who was returning home from a Vermont vacation when her family’s vehicle was struck.
“Our client is an avid gardener who loves being outdoors and riding her tractor,” Kelly said. “Her injuries and subsequent surgery limited her ability to do what she enjoys. Linda is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, and I’m proud we were able to obtain a substantial result for her.”
The Hon. Jon E. DeGuilio and Magistrate Judge Michael G. Gotsch, Sr., of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division, presided in Linda and Anthony Matejcak vs. M&G Trucking and Transportation, Inc., and Winston Baena. Case No. 3:20-cv-00026-JD-MGG.