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CHICAGO — An $18.15 million verdict was reached Monday on behalf of a former Gary resident who was seriously injured five years ago, at the age of 17, when he was struck and thrown by a semitrailer while he stood on the side of a highway fixing his vehicle, a Chicago law firm announced.

The verdict was reached in Cook County Circuit Court on behalf of Gustavo Cornejo Jr., who resided in Gary at the time of the accident. A jury arrived at the verdict after three weeks of trial and eight hours of deliberation over two days, according to attorneys Bradley M. Cosgrove and Jack J. Casciato, partners at Clifford Law Offices.

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"He (Cornejo) and his father were pulled over on the right shoulder of Illinois 394 on Sept. 27, 2016, when a tractor-trailer struck the young Cornejo, hurling him more than 30 feet in the air," the law firm said. "He struck his head and suffered severe brain injuries as well as broken ribs and vertebrae."

The defendants in the case ware Dakota Lines trucking company of Vermillion, South Dakota and Alliance Shipper, Inc. of Englewod Cliffs, New Jersey.

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"This young man will require care the rest of his life due to something that simply shouldn't have happened," Cosgrove said. "Truck drivers on the road need to understand that they can kill or seriously injure people with their large vehicles. They must be particularly aware when vehicles and their occupants are on the side of the road, and they must pull away from them to ensure a safe distance or else tragedy like this strikes."

Casciato said: "This verdict is one example of the public not willing to tolerate trucking companies and their drivers not practicing safe driving habits and protocol when the safety of others on the road is at stake."

This article originally ran on nwitimes.com.

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