Car accidents occur far too often – especially in and around the Chicago area. According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, in 2011 there were 281,788 motor vehicle crashes on Illinois roadways. Further data reveals even more disturbing news: 918 people died in 835 crashes during that time, and an additional 84,172 victims were injured. Car accidents can cause terrible injuries, from broken bones and head trauma, to paralysis and even death. When a person is injured in a car accident as a result of another’s negligent behavior, the victim may be entitled to compensation for any related suffering and losses. If you or someone you know has been hurt by the negligence of another driver, you are encouraged to contact a local injury attorney who has experience handling car accident cases.
In recent news, the driver in a head-on crash that killed a husband and wife in a suburb north of Chicago was charged with two counts of first-degree murder and four counts of aggravated driving under the influence. According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, only the husband died on the day of the accident that occurred on September 22. The driver had been charged with a count of felony reckless homicide at the end of September. The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office announced that the wife died on October 9 from “complications of multiple injuries due to a vehicle collision.” The updated charges were filed after the second death.
Car accidents occur as a result of many different factors, such as roadway issues, vehicle problems, driver impairment or distraction, or some combination of these items. In the case described above, the driver’s impairment seems to be the main cause of the accident that killed the husband and wife. In all likelihood, the families of the decedents in this case could bring a wrongful death action against the driver.
A wrongful death lawsuit would allege that the decedent was killed as a result of the negligence (or other liability) on the part of the defendant. The surviving beneficiaries or dependents would be entitled to recover monetary damages due to the defendant’s actions.
In most cases, the beneficiaries or dependents are surviving children, spouses and sometimes parents. It is unclear in this case if the married couple had any children; even if they did not, it would not preclude the decedents’ parents from bringing a wrongful death action.
Before 2007, when the Wrongful Death Act was amended in Illinois, plaintiffs were entitled to recover only for economic injuries, such as lost wages and funeral expenses. The amendments expanded the breadth of recovery to allow families to recover for non-economic damages as well, such as grief, sorrow and mental suffering. Many expect that these amendments will lead to greater damages awards for plaintiffs, because now the jury is permitted to consider evidence specifically on grief, sorrow and mental suffering of a parent, spouse or other family member.
Victims of car accidents and their families are often confronted with tragic and unexpected life altering injuries and sometimes death. It is important to get the help of an experienced injury attorney at this time to help preserve and protect your family’s rights to a recovery.