In Glenview, three Chicago residents were killed when a garbage truck crashed into their car, at the intersection of Harrison Street and Harlem Avenue. The driver of the truck was not injured. The Chicago Tribune reports that the family of one of the victims is now bringing a wrongful death lawsuit against the owner of the truck, the Village of Skokie, as well as its employee who was driving the truck at the time of the collision. When a person dies due to the negligence of another, the family of the decedent may be entitled to compensation. The dependents or beneficiaries of the decedent may find it difficult to bring a wrongful death action, as they are most likely grieving over the untimely and unexpected death of a family member. An experienced injury attorney will be able to guide the family through the legal process to recover damages.
According to the complaint filed by the eldest son of one of the people killed in the crash, the driver of the Skokie garbage truck operated the vehicle negligently by failing to keep “a proper and sufficient lookout.” The allegations further state that the truck was going faster than 20 miles per hour while driving through a school zone at the time of the collision. The family also accuses the driver of failing to honk the horn — when doing so would be considered “reasonably necessary to ensure safety.” Officials with the Village of Skokie posted on its website that the truck had the right of way and upon entering the intersection, the passenger vehicle involved in the accident violated the two-way stop sign.
After a three week long investigation, authorities said that no citations or charges would be filed in connection with the accident. The goal of the police investigation was to determine whether any laws were violated, but the results do not, however, affect a plaintiff’s right to bring a wrongful death claim. Here, a judge will be expected to determine fault for liability purposes. In civil actions in the United States, plaintiffs must typically prove their case by “a preponderance of the evidence,” as opposed to the stricter standard in criminal cases, “by clear and convincing evidence” or “beyond a reasonable doubt.” For this reason, many believe it is easier for a family to seek retribution against someone through civil law (such as a wrongful death lawsuit) rather than a criminal prosecution.
As recently as 2007, the Illinois Wrongful Death Act was amended to expand the breadth of damages a plaintiff may recover. Until that time, plaintiffs were limited to a recovery of economic damages, such as lost wages and funeral expenses. Now, plaintiffs are permitted to seek non-economic damages, such as grief, sorrow and mental suffering. Plaintiffs’ attorneys may present to the jury evidence specifically addressing the grief, sorrow, and mental suffering of a spouse, parent or other family member.
A wrongful death claim is full of complicated issues, including handling the overall sensitive nature of such a claim. If you have lost a loved one due to the negligence of another, you are encouraged to contact an experienced injury attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights.