Chicago Car Accident Wrongful Death Lawsuit Results in $13.7 M Verdict

A Chicago jury has awarded $13.7 million in a car accident lawsuit filed by the family of a BMW salesman who was killed in a high-speed crash that occurred while the defendant was traveling over 90 miles per hour during a test drive.

The car accident occurred on August 4, 2004, as 20 year old Christopher Maher was test driving a 2003 BMW 530i sedan.

The wrongful death lawsuit was filed on behalf of 22 year old Roger Czapski, who was the car salesman accompanying Maher on the test drive. Czapski was seated in the front seat and two of Maher’s friend were seated in the back.

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While traveling at approximately 90 miles per hour in a 45 miles per hour zone, the BMW clipped another vehicle and collided with a light pole. The brunt of the impact was on the front passenger side where Capski was seated, causing fatal injuries. Maher and the other two passengers survived the crash with serious injuries.

Although Maher pled guilty in 2005 to aggravated speeding and was sentenced to one year of probation with 30 days of community service at the Cook County medical examiner’s office, he denied liability in Czapski’s car accident lawsuit.

Maher argued that Czapski contributed to his own death by encouraging him to drive faster than the speed limit and never asking him to slow down. In addition, the test drive violated the policy of the BMW dealer by going outside of the established route.

Following a one-week trial in the Cook County Circuit Court before Judge John B. Grogan, the jury returned a verdict of $13.7 million for the Czaprski family on Monday. The driver of the other vehicle was found to bear no responsibility for the fatal Chicago car accident, and Maher was found to be 98% responsible for Czaprski’s death under the Illinois comparative negligence statute.

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