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Old People Deserve Justice Too

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Chicago, IllAttorney Matthew Passen knew he had his work cut out for him when he decided to step up to the plate for an elderly couple who had been injured in a car accident. He'd have to get a jury to understand that all his clients' pain and suffering, the torn tissues, all the medical bills, prescription drugs, as well as the visits to doctors and hospitals over the last four years had nothing to do with their age. "It's always difficult to get a jury to understand that elderly people's injuries are due to the accident and not just things that go along with being old," says Passen.

Elder VictimThe couple was in good health until five years ago when a semi-trailer whacked into their car while it was stopped in a construction zone. The 76-old-woman sustained serious soft tissue injuries to her back and neck that left in her in constant pain. Her husband suffered a serious shoulder injury that tore his rotator cuff and required surgery.

Although the trucking company, Inland Traffic Consulting Corp. admitted liability and negligence, it argued the elderly couple was not injured to the extent they claimed and in fact that their injuries had healed.

Passen Refuses Settlement Offer
"During the trial, the company offered up $250,000 to settle," says Passen. But the couple's medical bills were already close to that and they would require more health care in the future. Passen advised his clients to turn down the offer. His determination to see his clients compensated in full paid off.

The jury returned with the highest verdict ever reported in Illinois to a plaintiff over the age of 60 for purely soft tissue injuries and awarded $550,000 to the 76-year-old woman. "The jury awarded essentially everything we asked for in the case of the wife," says Passen.

The jury also awarded her 80-year-old husband $60,000 for injuries to his rotator cuff sustained in the truck accident. "We are really happy with the results. We know those are tough cases to win," says Passen from the Passen Law Group in Chicago.

Elder Injuries
Passen went into court believing in his clients and believing they deserved justice for what had happened. "We were able to make the jury understand that although these are soft tissue injuries and although they are elderly, you can't hold it against them," says Passen. "You take people as they come and aren't elderly people entitled to the same justice you and I are entitled to?"

"We had expert testimony to back it up," says Passen. "Our clients had seen a family physician for 24 years. So he had the benefit of knowing their medical history, and was able to say that he had never treated them for anything related to their neck or back, they didn't have any preexisting conditions."

Day in Court
As for Passen's clients, they were more than pleased. "They felt like they were able to have their day in court and felt vindicated that a jury believed them and understood them."

"At the Passen Law Group we handle big liability cases or cases where the injuries are really clear. We do many medical malpractice suits, wrongful death, truck accidents," says Passen. "We like to do cases we really believe in."

Matthew Passen received his B.A. magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, in Economics from the University of Michigan in 2002. He obtained his law degree, summa cum laude, from DePaul University College of Law in 2006.

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