Both the civil and criminal law intersect when someone is killed by a reckless driver. However, the civil case that provides compensation to the family is significant if they want to receive payment for all of the losses tied to the accident. The government has most of the control over the process of filing criminal charges.
A fatal accident in the suburbs of Chicago has recently resulted in a criminal sentence for the man responsible.
Driver flees an accident and speeds into the back of another car
The incident occurred when the suspect was speeding at a rate of approximately 107 miles per hour through the suburbs outside of Chicago near Rolling Meadows. The driver was already in the process of committing a crime by fleeing the scene of another accident. As the victim’s car was in front of the suspect and slowing down for a red light at an intersection, their vehicle was struck by the defendant from behind. One of the passengers in that vehicle was a 16 year old girl who was immediately killed from the impact. Her younger sister also sustained serious injuries that required her to have four different surgeries and learn how to walk normally in the following months. Both of these girls’ parents were injured in the crash as well.
The attorney for the defense had attempted to argue that the 32 year old male from Wheeling, Illinois caused the crash when he had a seizure while driving. The prosecutor for Cook County argued that the driver disregarded the rules of the road and the safety of others while speeding, which led to this tragic accident. The prosecution also stated that multiple lives within this family were entirely changed in just an instant due to the defendant’s behavior.
After approximately an hour of deliberations, the jury returned a guilty verdict for the crime of reckless homicide. The defendant is scheduled to have a separate hearing to determine his specific sentence about a month after the trial.
When the driver responsible is charged criminally
While some serious accidents may result in criminal charges for reckless drivers, the civil case that provides payments to victims and their families will have to be handled separately in the civil court system. Criminal charges or an adjudication of guilt does not decide the outcome of the civil case, as there needs to be a separate trial regarding fault, causation, and damages in the negligence case. These criminal charges can be used as evidence of the defendant’s negligence, but the final decision still lies with the jury.
Anyone who wants to receive compensation for their injuries in a similar situation will need to retain their own civil lawyer, regardless of what happens with the criminal case against the person responsible. Only the civil case will allow for a total calculation of damages for things like medical expenses and lost wages caused by the driver responsible. A significant amount of money may also be available following a situation like this when the plaintiff’s attorney argues for non-economic damages related to emotional pain and suffering.
Some cases with facts that heavily favor the plaintiff can also result in a settlement agreement. This is done because the jury will usually be sympathetic to the victim after hearing that a reckless driver killed one of their family members, which means the defendant could end up owing a lot of money.
Wrongful death cases
In this situation, the victim is no longer present to file her own lawsuit against the driver. The law accounts for these kinds of situations through each state’s wrongful death statute. This statute allows certain other family members with a close relation to the deceased person to stand in their place and file a lawsuit on their behalf.
The Illinois wrongful death statute says that the deceased person’s estate is allowed to file a civil lawsuit for a death caused by a negligent or intentional act against the person or entity responsible. A surviving spouse, child, or next of kin can receive payments for things like expenses related to the accident and emotional pain just like other civil cases. If there are no surviving family members or relatives available, the damages are used to repay medical professionals and those involved in the administration of the deceased person’s estate.
To learn how concepts such as the wrongful death law, negligence, and the insurance claims process may apply to your specific accident, it is best to consult with a lawyer who routinely handles these kinds of cases and issues.
Contact a local lawyer after a motor vehicle accident
There are attorneys available who help people after injuries and accidents in the Chicago metro area. Get in touch with the lawyers at Budin Law Offices for more information regarding a possible lawsuit.