What can a lawyer do for families in Chicago that have lost relatives in fatal car accidents?
Some serious car accidents result in devastating injuries or even death to the people involved. The law does provide a number of ways where attorneys can help victims and their families receive payments through negligence actions and wrongful death lawsuits.
A devastating crash on the West Side of Chicago left three people dead
The driver who is believed to be at fault was travelling near the intersections of Harrison Street and Oakley Boulevard. As his vehicle crossed that intersection, it struck a Mitsubishi Outlander that was travelling southbound. The suspect was driving a Chevy Malibu, which ultimately hit a light pole and caught on fire before coming to a rest. The 24 year old male driver of the Malibu was found to be responsible for the deaths of three passengers in his car. Another victim in the Outlander sustained injuries as well.
Local police have also filed criminal charges against the driver related to leaving the scene of the accident and reckless homicide.
The criminal case related to the accident
It is fairly rare that criminal charges are filed after a car accident, but the police likely had probably cause to make an arrest based on the fact that the driver intentionally left the scene and created the situation through reckless driving. This criminal charges will not affect the victim’s ability to sue, and in fact they can provide evidence of negligence in a civil case that may be helpful at trial or during settlement negotiations.
Wrongful death lawsuits
After a fatal car accident, the best option for the victim’s family is to file a wrongful death lawsuit. A wrongful death action allows certain family members, usually a spouse, parent, or sibling, to file the case on the deceased person’s behalf to collect money for things like funeral expenses, medical treatment, hospitalization, and future lost wages. The economic damages related to future lost wages can be significant, especially when a young victim would have been making tens of thousands of dollars a year or more until they would have reached retirement age. Like all other civil personal injury lawsuits, a wrongful death action also allows a plaintiff to make a claim for non-economic damages related to emotional pain and suffering, or mental health issues that occur after the incident and require continued treatment.
One of the main differences between a wrongful death lawsuit and other kinds of civil lawsuits is a shorter statute of limitations. This means that the family of the victim should contact their personal injury attorney as quickly as possible after the accident to avoid missing this brief window. It is usually just two years in most states.
Multiple parties can be held responsible
The driver of the Malibu is not the only one who may be at fault. The news story reported that the car also struck some kind of pole and caught on fire. If these incidents contributed to the deaths, the parties responsible can be joined as defendants in a lawsuit. In most accidents, cars have safety features that should prevent a car from catching on fire or at least allow the victims to escape in time. There may have been known problems with the manufacturing process or design of this particular model. A car manufacturer can definitely be held liable for problems with a specific vehicle that are known to cause injury or death, especially if a recall has not been issued with proper notice to the public.
Splitting the amount of fault
If multiple parties contributed to the accident, the doctrine of comparative negligence will allow the total amount of fault to be divided between all defendants. Even if a plaintiff is partially at fault for the accident, this only reduces the amount of damages available to them rather than ending the lawsuit. This doctrine allows all of their fault to be portioned to equal one hundred percent, and the damages that they are responsible for paying out will be divided as well. In fatal accidents involving multiple defendants, damages can become very large and insurance companies will often get involved and end up covering most of the payouts.
The state of Illinois does have some specific nuances to its contributory and comparative negligence laws that will prevent a plaintiff with a high level of fault from collecting, so it is important to discuss the specifics of your accident with an attorney shortly after the incident.
Talk to an attorney following any kind of car crash
To speak with an experienced accident attorney in Chicago, contact Budin Law Offices. You can receive specific guidance based on the facts of your accident, and a lawyer will provide guidance regarding how to proceed in order to receive the most compensation allowed by law.