A large metro area like Chicago constantly experiences motor vehicle accidents where people can be seriously hurt or even killed. A civil lawsuit against drivers or other parties who are responsible is often the only way to cover expenses created by the accident. Personal injury attorneys specialize in these kinds of lawsuits and they can provide specific guidance based on the facts of each accident.
The Chicago Fire Department responded to an accident on the Dan Ryan Expressway that involved several cars and claimed the life of one victim.
Deadly multiple car crash on the Dan Ryan Expressway
The situation began when one vehicle was stalled in the traffic lanes and others collided with it near Garfield Boulevard. Several vehicles were involved in the crash, and a 39 year old female was pinned inside one of the cars. Rescue workers were able to remove her and perform CPR before she was rushed to the University of Chicago Medical Center. She died shortly afterward from her injuries.
The expressway remained closed from 59th Street to 63rd Street for some time after the accident. The Chicago Police were still investigating the incident and did not provide any further details about the status of the other drivers or their injuries at the time of the report. It does not seem that anyone will be charged criminally for the fatal accident.
Who can bring a lawsuit if the victim has already died?
While fatal accidents can be devastating to a family, the law does allow other family members to stand in their place take legal action on their behalf. This is most commonly done through a wrongful death lawsuit. This is a type of claim that allows spouses, children, or certain other family members to be compensated for things that the person could have provided if they had lived such as their future lost wages and other valuable services. The same lawsuit can also compensate the family for their medical and funeral expenses related to the fatal accident. Some lawyers who deal with personal injury cases also specialize in bringing wrongful death actions because there is much overlap between these two areas of the law.
Illinois wrongful death lawsuits
The Illinois wrongful death statute says that certain relatives or the representative of the estate of the deceased person can bring a lawsuit to be compensated for their losses. The actions that caused the death can either be intentional, negligent, or reckless, which covers most motor vehicle accidents. There is also a time limit of one to two years, meaning the family only has a short time to decide to file the case.
This a civil lawsuit, not a criminal case. The state may choose to file criminal charges such as manslaughter or murder related to a wrongful death, but the victim generally has little input in this process and they can choose to file a civil case regardless of whether criminal charges are brought or not.
One of the most valuable aspects of damages tied to a wrongful death is the attorney’s ability to argue for an amount related to emotional pain and suffering in addition to purely economic losses. It can be difficult to place a value on such a tragedy, which is why juries are often sympathetic and return a verdict for a large amount due to the long term loss. Some defendants or their insurance companies will choose to make a settlement agreement before trial to avoid the possibility of a jury awarding a very large amount.