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Williams v. Walsh





Appeal by defendant from the Circuit Court of Sangamon county; the Hon. DEWITT S. CROW, Judge, presiding. Heard in this court at the October term, 1950. Affirmed. Opinion filed November 2, 1950. Rehearing denied January 3, 1951. Released for publication January 3, 1951.


Rehearing denied January 3, 1951

This is an appeal by Eileen Walsh, defendant, from judgments entered against her on verdicts in favor of plaintiffs James Williams and Virginia Williams, his wife, in the sums of $3,000 and $9,000, respectively. This suit results from an automobile accident which occurred on October 17, 1948, shortly after 9:00 p.m.

Testimony for the plaintiffs was to the effect that Mrs. Williams was a guest passenger in her husband's automobile, which was proceeding east on Route 125, a 20-foot paved highway, about 6 1/2 miles west of Springfield, Illinois; that the Williams car was traveling about 50 miles per hour, with its bright lights on; that Eileen Walsh, driving west on the same highway, was first seen by James Williams when he came over the crest of a hill and the cars were about 200 feet apart; that the Walsh automobile was then partially in the eastbound lane of travel; that Williams then dimmed his lights and began to slow down; that the Walsh car swerved to its right and "seemed to go off the road" and then came back to its left across the road and struck the Williams car on its left side; that Williams applied his brakes hard when defendant turned to her left and started to head toward the Williams car, and that skid marks, glass, oil, and dirt on the highway indicated the impact occurred in the eastbound lane of travel.

Defendant's testimony was to the effect that she saw the Williams car coming at a high speed; that she was blinded by its lights and turned to her right; that the right wheels of her car left the road, and the impact then occurred; and that she didn't know whether or not, in getting back on to the road, the left front of her car went across the center line.

As a result of the accident, Mrs. Williams suffered a fractured pelvis, facial wounds, and shock. She was hospitalized until January 13, 1949. At the time of the accident she was employed, and returned to such employment on March 1, 1949. She testified that since the accident she has not been without pain.

On April 26, 1949, an examination of her spinal column was made by Dr. Shriner, her attending physician. He testified that on such examination he found a deviation or curvature of her spinal column of one-half inch from center. He further testified that on October 12, 1949, he made another examination of her spinal column and then found a deviation of approximately one inch. The defendant offered no medical testimony.

Doctor Shriner testified that on the night of the accident he made a complete examination and took X-rays of plaintiff, and found her in severe pain associated with the bones of her pelvis, but at that time found no injury to her back or spine; that he "followed this case until she left the hospital on January 17, 1949, but had no occasion during that period to have raised the question of the condition of her back"; that from January 17 until April 26, 1949, he did not attend her; that on April 26 he made a detailed examination of her spinal column, and took the first x-ray of her back, and that "as far as this patient's injuries to her pelvis are concerned she had a perfectly normal and complete recovery with no displacements," but that there is a tilt to the sacrum.

The doctor then testified that on his examination of April 26 he found that the patient had a deviation of the spine of approximately one-half inch off center, a curvature of the spine; that he was unable to tell whether or not such deviation was the cause of pain, but it could have been; that on October 12, 1949, he took additional x-rays and again made a detailed examination of her spine, and found the deviation of the spine had increased another half inch, and there was a slight tilt of the pelvis; that he was unable to say which occurred first, — whether the deviation occurred and the pelvis was tilted, or the pelvis was tilted and the deviation followed; that from such examination and treatment of her it was his opinion, based upon reasonable medical certainty, that there probably was a relationship and connection between the condition he so found and the accident in question.

When Doctor Shriner first began to testify as to such curvature of the spine, the defendant objected to such curvature being shown "unless there is positive connection between that and the alleged occurrence." Such objection was overruled.

Before cross examination of the doctor the defendant moved that the entire testimony of the doctor in relation to x-rays pertaining to the back, and all evidence pertaining to the condition of the back, be stricken as having no connection with the alleged accident, which motion was denied.

On cross examination the doctor testified that it was more probable that the curvature of the spine was the result of the injury.

The defendant contends that the court erred in overruling such objection and in denying such motion.

In Lauth v. Chicago Union Traction Co., 244 Ill. 244, 251, the court said: "In this class of cases, in estimating the pecuniary loss, all the consequences of the injury, future as well as past, which are shown by the evidence to be reasonably certain to result from the injury, are to be taken into consideration. . . . To form a proper basis for recovery, however, it is necessary that ...

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