A $4.75 million settlement was approved after a city employee driving a garbage truck struck a woman’s SUV in October 2016.
The payout was approved at the Dec. 11 City Council meeting without comment from aldermen, and as part of a package of 26 other city business items that included provisions for a beach office renovation, extension of a contract related to a city-owned parking garage, and theater and artist studio lease renewals.
Evanston attorneys and other city officials declined to comment when reached after the meeting.
“I still can’t move my left hand and my left leg was broken,” said Katea Yakhnis, 33, of Skokie when reached by phone Friday.
She filed a personal injury lawsuit Oct. 24, 2016 in Cook County Circuit Court.
It followed the Oct. 16, 2016 incident where the SUV Yakhnis was driving was struck by the garbage truck as it was traveling in Skokie. Officials said the city worker is still currently on the Evanston payroll.
According to the lawsuit, the collision “caused [Yakhnis] to suffer severe and permanent injuries and damages to her health and body, and will suffer in the future, losses due to being prevented from following her usual course of affairs and the expenditure of large sums of money for medical treatment and other losses.”
Yakhnis explained that she sustained “heavy nerve damage” and has undergone five surgeries. She still goes to physical therapy, she said.
Yakhnis told the Evanston Review that since the accident, she hasn’t been able to return to her jobs as a home care worker and as cashier at Haven Middle School in Evanston.
“I can’t work because my hand does not work. My finger doesn’t work,” Yakhnis said.
While she has health insurance, Yakhnis said it does not cover all of her expenses.
Last month, an agreement was reached where Yahknis dismissed her lawsuit and Evanston agreed to pay money but not admit any liability, according to court documents.
Under terms of the agrreement – which was approved by the City Council – Evanston’s excess liability insurer will pay Yakhnis $3.5 million and the city will pay her up to $1.25 million.
Public works employee Mark Barner, 51, was driving the city garbage truck eastbound in the leftmost lane in the 4200 block of Golf Road in Skokie about 1:36 p.m., according to police reports obtained by the Evanston Review.
Barner crossed over the double-yellow lines in the center of the roadway and side-swiped the Honda CRV driven by Yakhnis that was going west, according to the police report.
Yakhnis’ SUV spun, struck another car and ended up facing eastbound in the curb lane on Golf Road. The other car stopped on the parkway next to the CRV, the police report states.
The garbage truck “lost control to the left, crossed over the westbound lanes, jumped the curb, ran over a wooden Com-Ed light pole, a village of Skokie stop sign and fire hydrant, before coming to a rest on the west parkway of Keeler just north of Golf,” according to the police report.
Yakhnis was taken to Evanston Hospital where she was treated for an arm and leg injury, according to the report.
Yakhnis’ vehicle was first hit on the front left corner, according to the police report, and sustained damage on the front, back, and left side of the car. The garbage truck was also damaged on the front, back and left side.
Erika Storlie, Evanston deputy city manager, said Barner still works for the city’s public works department but is in a different position “that does not require him to drive.”