Back in 2011, a tour bus driver struck and killed an innocent woman walking in downtown Chicago. News reports indicate that the driver was operating the tour bus with cocaine in his system when he hit the 26 year-old. The family of the victim brought a wrongful death action against the tour bus company, arguing that it should never have hired the driver. A typical wrongful death action would allege that the decedent was killed as a result of the negligence (or other liability) on the part of the defendant. In such cases, the surviving beneficiaries or dependents may be entitled to monetary damages as a result of the defendant’s conduct. The events leading up to a wrongful death claim are usually tragic, and inevitably involve the unexpected and preventable death of a loved one. It is important to reach out to an experienced, local injury attorney who can handle your case with sensitivity and a strong sense of what the family is entitled to in terms of compensation for suffering and losses.
In this case, when the driver was initially arrested for the fatal accident, authorities learned that he was already the subject of a police investigative alert accusing him of sexually assaulting two girls. Because of this impending investigation, the family of the victim claimed that the company should not have hired him and should have been aware of his alleged cocaine use. Regarding the accident, prosecutors and witnesses have said that the woman had the right of way and was in the crosswalk when the tour bus struck her. There was video surveillance confirming that she had a green light at the time of the accident. The driver claimed that he never saw the woman. She was rushed to an area hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
Just this past August, the family of the victim settled the wrongful death lawsuit for $6.75 million. While no amount of money can ever ease a family’s suffering over the loss of a loved one, many families will experience a sense of justice when the negligent party that caused the death is held accountable and takes responsibility for their actions. And in further news, the Chicago Tribune reported that the driver of the tour bus company has been sentenced to 34 years in prison after pleading guilty to aggravated DUI and charges for the two unrelated sexual abuse cases.
Fortunately for family members who bring wrongful death claims, the extent of a potential recovery was expanded in 2007 when the Illinois Wrongful Death Act was amended to allow for recovery of both economic and non-economic damages. In addition to being entitled to compensation for things like lost wages and funeral expenses, families may now bring claims for grief, sorrow, and mental suffering of a parent, spouse, or other family member.
In wrongful death cases, it is critically important to hire the right injury attorney with a great deal of experience handling such cases and working with grieving family members to ensure the best possible outcome under the circumstances.