A truck driver who killed a Cook County man last fall will not be tried, convicted or imprisoned. Authorities issued a traffic ticket for the fatal trucking accident on Interstate 57 that could have been prevented if the driver had slowed down.
The family of the 22-year-old victim did not accept that their child's death should be resolved so easily. Family members turned to a civil court with a wrongful death lawsuit that named the out-of-state truck driver's employer as a defendant.
The plaintiffs blamed the trucking company for employing a negligent driver. The family's attorney said the semi driver took his eyes off the road while traveling 55 mph. The inattentive behavior was long enough to prevent the 53-year-old driver from responding in time to the traffic in front of him.
The victim's car was moving slowly along the highway near Ludlow to accommodate a tie-up over an earlier accident. The traffic jam was delaying the car driver's November trip to Champaign to visit his girlfriend at the University of Illinois.
The high-speed semi struck the car and shoved the vehicle into another tractor trailer. The car was so compacted in the crash that emergency crews had to cut through the vehicle to release the victim. The young man died from his injuries. Neither trucker was hurt.
The truck driver told police that by the time he noticed the change in traffic speed there was no time to react.
The civil lawsuit never went to trial. The family's attorney and the trucking firm settled out of court for $3.75 million. Defendants who settle lawsuits are often convinced a jury would find them negligent.
The multi-million dollar settlement may seem like a lot of money, but think of the family's loss. The young man was his parents' only child. Civil courts know the loss of a loved one can never be replaced, only eased.
news-gazette.com, "$3.75 million settlement reached in I-57 fatality" Dave Hinton, Jun. 22, 2013