What a negligent driver takes away may never be replaced - a victim's health, a spouse, a parent or a child. As Cook County criminal courts seek justice for society, civil courts right wrongs for individuals. Victims and families permanently changed by a loved one's loss petition Chicago civil courts for financial recovery due to physical and emotional damage.
A Chicago tour bus driver struck a woman as she crossed a street after work on the city's Near North Side. The 2011 pedestrian accident ended the life of a German-born graphic designer, who was just 26. Investigators said the bus driver's record contained multiple traffic violations. The bus operator also was driving under the influence of cocaine.
A surveillance camera recorded the victim crossing the street legally within a designated crosswalk. The defendant, charged with reckless homicide and two unrelated crimes for child sexual abuse, said he never saw the woman while turning at the Streeterville intersection.
The jailed bus driver had a 20-year string of traffic offenses beginning in 1988. He was employed by the tour bus company just six months prior to the pedestrian fatality.
The victim's family recently accepted a $6.75 million settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit against the bus company. As part of the agreement, the tour bus operators agreed to help establish an art school scholarship fund in the alumna victim's name.
Settlements permit victims and surviving family members to move forward with their lives without the pressure and expense of lengthy litigation. The stress of a liability trial forces victims and relatives to relive a horrendous experience, a memory that plaintiffs sometimes do not want to revisit.
An out-of-court agreement may satisfactorily resolve the issue. The plaintiff is compensated for pain, suffering and losses. Defendants frequently prefer settlements to avoid an admission of guilt or negative publicity. Defendants often agree to settle because evidence is overwhelmingly against them.
articles.chicagotribune.com, "Family of woman struck by tour bus gets $6.75 million settlement" Ellen Jean Hirst, Aug. 28, 2013